Surgery on the thyroid gland at present is most frequently carried out for nodules because of the possibility that they may be malignant. Although the nodule may seem to be a single nodule on palpation preoperatively, additional nodules are commonly found by the surgeon. Occasionally, one of these additional nodules is malignant.
In 14 patients who were subjected to thyroid surgery at the Henry Ford Hospital for palpable nodules that proved to be benign, an additional nodule found by the surgeon in each case proved to be malignant on microscopic examination (Figure). In three other patients with a similar situation the microscopic features of the additional nodule found at the time of surgery were questionably malignant. In each of these patients, surgery was performed solely because of the possibility that the nodule felt preoperatively was malignant.All of the patients in this group were female. Nearly all were in