Thyroid| Volume 171, ISSUE 1, P172-176, January 2022

Optimal surgeon-volume threshold for neck dissections in the setting of primary thyroid malignancies



      Although the surgeon-volume relationship is well documented for thyroidectomy, less is known about central neck and lateral neck dissections. The aim of this study was to evaluate and determine the surgeon-volume threshold for central neck and lateral neck dissections for thyroid cancer.


      A retrospective analysis of patients with thyroid malignancies who received a central or lateral neck dissection in the New York Statewide Planning and Research Cooperative System was performed (2007–2017). Demographic variables included age, sex, race, and a Charlson Comorbidity Score. Thirty-day complications were identified using International Classification of Diseases (ICD) codes for central neck, lateral neck, and other surgical complications. Optimal surgeon-volume threshold was estimated using a change-point logistic regression. Using the identified threshold, surgeons were then classified to low versus high volume surgeons. Logistic regression analysis was conducted to examine the effect of high-volume status on outcomes.


      In total, 3,808 patients who underwent neck dissections (3,485 central neck dissections and 977 lateral neck dissections) were analyzed. Surgeon–volume threshold to distinguish high volume surgeons for central neck dissections and lateral neck dissections was 7.0 (95% bootstrap confidence interval 1.3–7.5) and 3.3 (1.2–4.8) neck dissections/year, respectively. For central neck dissection, high volume surgeons were associated with a lower rate of vocal cord paralysis (odds ratio 0.45 [0.24–0.82]), hypocalcemia (0.31 [0.14–0.65]), and all-cause complications (0.42 [0.29–0.59]). For lateral neck dissection, high volume surgeons were associated with a lower odds all-cause complications (0.42 [0.23–0.74]) but not lateral neck specific complications (0.18 [0.01–1.07]).


      A threshold of 7.0 central neck dissections and 3.3 lateral neck dissections for thyroid cancer per year improves outcomes. Guidelines for training and centralization of care can be guided by these results to reduce complications.
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