Ultrasound-guided thyroid biopsies can be improved by having a pathologist on site during the procedure, according to a study presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Roentgen Ray Society.

According to Wui Chong, MD, lead author of the study, requests for ultrasound-guided biopsies of thyroid nodules have increased rapidly in recent years, putting a strain on radiology departments everywhere.

For the study, researchers at the University of North Carolina compared 200 biopsies that were performed with a pathologist on site and 200 performed without an on-site pathologist.

The findings showed that, with all other factors being equal, 13.5% of biopsies performed without a pathologist on site were inadequate compared to 5% that were performed with a pathologist on site. Dr. Chong explained that the findings demonstrate that having a pathologist on site to review the specimen can lower the number of patients returning for repeat biopsy and make more efficient use of resources.

“As a result of this study, we recommend that radiologists performing large numbers of thyroid biopsies use on-site pathology as it may reduce the need for repeat biopsy by up to 60%,” said Dr. Chong.