Indication and extent of lateral prophylactic neck dissection (PLND) in papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) is very controversial.
We retrospectively analysed 131 patients who underwent thyroidectomy and prophylactic lateral neck dissection from level II to V for PTC.
140 PLND were performed. The occult lymph node metastases (OLNM) overall rate was 18.6%. The incidence of node involvement was 10% at level III and 6.4% at level IIa. Level IV and level Vb were both concerned by 5.7% OLNM. Only 2.9% of level IIb contained OLNM. None of the level Va ND revealed OLNM.
OLNM from PTC occurs commonly in level IIa, III, IV and Vb. Incidence in other levels is low. For surgeons that usually perform PLND, we believe that a selective neck dissection of levels IIa, III, IV and Vb in N0 neck PTC is sufficient for the clearance of occult metastases.