Dal Maso L, Panato C, De Paoli A, Mattioli V, Serraino D, Elisei R, Zoppini G, Gobitti C, Borsatti E, Di Felice E, Falcini F, Ferretti S, Francisci S, Giorgi Rossi P, Guzzinati S, Mazzoleni G, Pierannunzio D, Piffer S, Vaccarella S, Vicentini M, Zorzi M, Franceschi S, Fedeli U; DEPTH Working Group.

J Endocrinol Invest. 2021 Jan 18. doi: 10.1007/s40618-020-01475-3. Online ahead of print.

Purpose: Evidence of an increased diagnostic pressure on thyroid has emerged over the past decades. This study aimed to provide estimates of a wide spectrum of surveillance indicators for thyroid dysfunctions and diseases in Italy.

Methods: A population-based study was conducted in North-eastern Italy, including 11.7 million residents (20% of the total Italian population). Prescriptions for TSH testing, neck ultrasound or thyroid fine needle aspiration (FNA), surgical procedures, and drugs for hypo- or hyperthyroidism were extracted from regional health databases. Proportions and rates of selected examinations were calculated from 2010 to 2017, overall and by sex, calendar years, age, and region.

Results: Between 2010 and 2017 in North-eastern Italy, 24.5% of women and 9.8% of men received at least one TSH test yearly. In 2017, 7.1% of women and 1.5% of men were prescribed drugs for thyroid dysfunction, 94.6% of whom for hypothyroidism. Neck ultrasound examinations were performed yearly in 6.9% of women and 4.6% of men, with a nearly two-fold variation between areas. Thyroid FNA and thyroidectomies were three-fold more frequent in women (394 and 85 per 100,000) than in men (128 and 29 per 100,000) with a marked variation between areas. Both procedures decreased consistently after 2013.

Conclusions: The results of this population-based study describe recent variations over time and between surrounding areas of indicators of 'diagnostic pressure' on thyroid in North-eastern Italy. These results emphasize the need to harmonize practices and to reduce some procedures (e.g., neck ultrasound and total thyroidectomies) in certain areas.

Pubmed https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33460012/