Go to content

Surgeon thyroidectomy case volume impacts disease-free survival in the management of thyroid cancer


Objectives — To assess the association between surgeons thyroidectomy case volume and disease-free survival (DFS) for patients with well-differentiated thyroid cancer (WDTC). A secondary objective was to assess a surgeon volume cutoff to optimize outcomes in those with WDTC. We hypothesized that surgeon volume will be an important predictor of DFS in patients with WDTC after adjusting for hospital volume and sociodemographic and clinical factors.

Methods — In this retrospective population-based cohort study, we identified WDTC patients in Ontario, Canada, who underwent thyroidectomy confirmed by both hospital-level and surgeon-level administrative data between 1993 and 2017 (N = 37,233). Surgeon and hospital volumes were calculated based on number of cases performed in the year prior by the physician and at an institution performing each case, respectively and divided into quartiles. A multilevel hierarchical Cox regression model was used to estimate the effect of volume on DFS.

Results — A crude model without patient or treatment characteristics demonstrated that both higher surgeon volume quartiles (p < 0.001) and higher hospital volume quartiles (p < 0.001) were associated with DFS. After controlling for clustering and patient/treatment covariates and hospital volume, moderately low (18–39/year) and low (0–17/year) volume surgeons (hazard ratios [HR]: 1.23, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.09–1.39 and HR: 1.34, 95% CI: 1.17–1.53 respectively) remained an independent statistically significant negative predictor of DFS.

Conclusion — Both high-volume surgeons and hospitals are predictors of better DFS in patients with WDTC. DFS is higher among surgeons performing more than 40 thyroidectomies a year.

Level of Evidence — 3 Laryngoscope, 2022



Eskander A, Noel CW, Griffiths R, Pasternak JD, Higgins K, Urbach D, Goldstein DP, Irish JC, Fu R. Laryngoscope. 2022; Jul 7 [Epub ahead of print].

View Source

Contributing ICES Scientists

Research Programs

Associated Sites