Background. Surgeon-performed ultrasonography (U/S) has revolutionized many subspecialties by broadening the diagnostic and interventional scope of practice. We report our experience on the impact of surgeon-performed U/S in an endocrine surgery practice. Methods. Prospectively maintained records of patients from November 1999 to November 2004 were reviewed to establish patterns and outcomes of U/S practice. Surgeon-performed neck U/S was done routinely at the initial clinic visit and incorporated into resident/fellow education. Results. A total of 5703 U/S were performed on endocrine patients with thyroid 42%, parathyroid 57%, and adrenal 1% disorders. Diagnostic fine-needle aspiration biopsy (FNA) was achieved with low sampling errors (<7%). When U/S identified thyroid nodules coexisting with hyperparathyroidism, preoperative FNA correctly established benign thyroid diagnosis and minimized need for thyroidectomy. U/S successfully imaged abnormal parathyroid glands when 99Tc-sestamibi scans were negative. U/S data significantly changed treatment plans in nearly two thirds of thyroid cancer patients. Surgical residents readily mastered essential U/S skills. Conclusions. Surgeon-performed U/S is a highly specific tool for identification of endocrine disease in the neck. It is learned readily and performed accurately, and functions as an informative extension of physical examination. Because it substantially benefits patient care and impacts surgical decision making, neck U/S is recommended highly as a valuable adjunct to endocrine surgical practice.
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