Annals of Surgical Oncology

, Volume 23, Issue 11, pp 3641–3652 | Cite as

Lobectomy is a more Cost-Effective Option than Total Thyroidectomy for 1 to 4 cm Papillary Thyroid Carcinoma that do not Possess Clinically Recognizable High-Risk Features

Endocrine Tumors



Although lobectomy is a viable alternative to total thyroidectomy (TT) in low-risk 1 to 4 cm papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC), lobectomy is associated with higher locoregional recurrence risk and need for completion TT upon discovery of a previously unrecognized histologic high-risk feature (HRF). The present study evaluated long-term cost-effectiveness between lobectomy and TT.


Our base case was a hypothetical female cohort aged 40 years with a low-risk 2.5 cm PTC. A Markov decision tree model was constructed to compare cost-effectiveness between lobectomy and TT after 25 years. Patients with an unrecognized HRF (including aggressive histology, microscopic extrathyroidal extension, lymphovascular invasion, positive resection margin, nodal metastasis >5 mm, and multifocality) underwent completion TT after lobectomy. Outcome probabilities, utilities, and costs were estimated from the literature. The threshold for cost-effectiveness was set at US$50,000/quality-adjusted life-year (QALY). Sensitivity and threshold analyses were used to examine model uncertainty.


After 25 years, each patient who underwent lobectomy instead of TT cost an extra US$772.08 but gained an additional 0.300 QALY. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio was US$2577.65/QALY. In the sensitivity analysis, the lobectomy arm began to become cost-effective only after 3 years. Despite varying the reported prevalence of clinically unrecognized HRFs, complication from surgical procedures, annualized recurrence rates, unit cost of surgical procedure or complication, and utility score, lobectomy remained more cost-effective than TT.


Despite the higher locoregional recurrence risk and having almost half of the patients undergoing completion TT after lobectomy upon discovery of a previously unrecognized HRF, initial lobectomy was a more cost-effective long-term option than initial TT for 1 to 4 cm PTCs without clinically recognized HRFs.


Papillary Thyroid Carcinoma Total Thyroidectomy Utility Score Threshold Analysis Central Neck Dissection 



The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Society of Surgical Oncology 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SurgeryThe University of Hong Kong, Queen Mary HospitalHong Kong SARChina
  2. 2.Department of Family Medicine and Primary CareUniversity of Hong KongAp Lei ChauHong Kong

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