SURGERY on the thyroid currently is performed primarily to remove nodules suspected of being malignant. However, histologic study demonstrates that most of these nodules are benign. Since the majority of these patients have a considerable life expectancy and since evidence indicates that benign nodules frequently are manifestations of a diffuse change in the thyroid, a study was made to learn the frequency with which recurrence of thyroid nodules produces clinical concern.
Information obtained indicates that clinically significant benign nodules recur in the remaining thyroid tissue with increasing frequency after five years. The incidence was found to vary from approximately 5% to 15% depending on length of the follow-up period and the operative procedure originally performed. This figure does justify removal of all grossly abnormal thyroid tissue at the time of operation when morbidity from the procedure is not increased.
The medical records of all patients who underwent thyroid surgery