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Author: Mikael Häggström [note 1]



Generally 10% neutral buffered formalin. Fix all thyroids at least overnight to avoid artifactual nuclear atypia.[1]

  See also: General notes on fixation

Removal during autopsy

Parathyroid glands (white arrow), next to the thyroid gland.

Sharply dissect the thyroid from the cartilage, starting at the posterior end of each lobe & working forward. Do not cut the isthmus. Try to find parathyroids.

Gross processing of thyroidectomy

  • Weigh.[2] Up to 30 g versus over 30 g grams is an accepted cutoff between normal and increased weight of the thyroid gland.[3]
  • Measure each lobe and isthmus in 3 dimensions, respectively.[2]
  • Ink outer surface,[2] at least if malignancy is suspected.[4]

((In addition, use different ink colors on the anterior versus posterior “capsular” or "peripheral" surface.))

Serially section the specimen at 3-4mm intervals,[5] such as follows:[2]

  See also: General notes on gross processing

Microscopic examination

Look primarily for the most commons causes of the presentation at hand. Otherwise, thyroid nodules can broadly be classified into benign versus malignant, where the risk of malignancy per nodule case is higher in younger people (approximately 23% in people aged 20-30 and approximately 13% in those aged >70 y).[6] Benign thyroid nodules are generally either follicular adenoma or Hürthle cell adenoma (approximately 60% and 40% of benign nodules, respectively).[7] See hyperthyroidism article for such case presentations.

Papillary thyroid carcinoma

A papillary thyroid carcinoma is characterized by:

Also, it typically has nuclei with:[13]

  • Enlargement, elongation, overlapping
  • Chromatin with clearing, margination, glassy / ground glass texture
  • Nuclear membrane with irregular contour

Other thyroid tumors


For cancers, generally include a synoptic report, such as per College of American Pathologists (CAP) protocols at

  See also: General notes on reporting

See also


  1. For a full list of contributors, see article history. Creators of images are attributed at the image description pages, seen by clicking on the images. See Patholines:Authorship for details.

Main page


  1. . Gross Pathology Manual By The University of Chicago Department of Pathology. Updated 2-14-19 NAC.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 . Gross Pathology Manual By The University of Chicago Department of Pathology. Updated 2-14-19 NAC.
  3. Shamim, A; Monira, K; Manowara, B; Sabiha, M; Alim, A; Nurunnabi, ASM (1970). "Weight of the Human Thyroid Gland – A Postmortem Study ". Bangladesh Journal of Medical Science 9 (1): 44–48. doi:10.3329/bjms.v9i1.5230. ISSN 2076-0299. 
    - In turn citing: Langer P. Discussion about the limit between normal thyroid and goiter: mini review. Endocrine regulations. 1999 March; 33(1): 39-45.
  4. Monica Dahlgren, Janne Malina, Anna Måsbäck, Otto Ljungberg. Stora utskärningen. KVAST (Swedish Society of Pathology). Retrieved on 2019-09-26.
  5. . THYROID. Royal College of pathologists of Australia. Retrieved on 2019-12-17.
  6. Kwong, Norra; Medici, Marco; Angell, Trevor E.; Liu, Xiaoyun; Marqusee, Ellen; Cibas, Edmund S.; Krane, Jeffrey F.; Barletta, Justine A.; et al. (2015). "The Influence of Patient Age on Thyroid Nodule Formation, Multinodularity, and Thyroid Cancer Risk ". The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 100 (12): 4434–4440. doi:10.1210/jc.2015-3100. ISSN 0021-972X. 
  7. Malith, V; Bombil, I; Harran, N; Luvhengo, TE (2018). "Demographic and histological subtypes of Hurthle cell tumours of the thyroid in a South African setting ". South African Journal of Surgery 56 (3): 20–23. doi:10.17159/2078-5151/2018/v56n3a2557. ISSN 00382361. 
  8. Swati Satturwar, M.D., F. Zahra Aly, M.D., Ph.D.. Thyroid & parathyroid - Hyperplasia / goiter - Multinodular goiter. PathologyOutlines. Last author update: 11 June 2021. Last staff update: 18 November 2021
  9. Sheren Younes, M.D.. Thyroid & parathyroid Benign thyroid neoplasms. Follicular adenoma.. Pathology Outlines. Last author update: 1 November 2014. Last staff update: 8 March 2022
  10. Cameselle-Teijeiro JM, Eloy C, Sobrinho-Simões M (2020). "Pitfalls in Challenging Thyroid Tumors: Emphasis on Differential Diagnosis and Ancillary Biomarkers. ". Endocr Pathol 31 (3): 197-217. doi:10.1007/s12022-020-09638-x. PMID 32632840. PMC: 7395918. Archived from the original. . 
    "This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License"
  11. Image by Mikael Häggström, MD. Reference for findings: Rachel Jug, M.B.B.Ch., B.A.O., David Poller, M.D., Xiaoyin "Sara" Jiang, M.D.. NIFTP. Pathology Outlines. Last author update: 10 May 2018
  12. Shuanzeng (Sam) Wei, M.D., Ph.D.. Thyroid & parathyroid - Other thyroid carcinoma - Main- Oncocytic (Hürthle cell) tumors. Pathology Outlines. Last author update: 1 October 2017. Last staff update: 21 July 2021
  13. Bin Xu, M.D., Ph.D.. Thyroid & parathyroid - Papillary thyroid carcinoma - Papillary thyroid carcinoma overview. Pathology Outlines. Topic Completed: 8 January 2020. Minor changes: 28 May 2021
  14. Shuanzeng (Sam) Wei, M.D., Ph.D.. Thyroid & parathyroid - Other thyroid carcinoma - Follicular. Pathology Outlines. Last author update: 1 August 2017. Last staff update: 24 May 2022

Image sources