Thyroid nodules with longitudinal nuclear grooves have been widely regarded as synonymous with papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC).


To study a series of cases of thyroid nodules that exhibited oncocytic (Hürthle cell) features and contained longitudinal nuclear grooves yet failed to display aggressive behavior or the full features of papillary thyroid carcinoma.


The clinicopathologic, immunohistochemical, and molecular genetic features of 15 patients with these features were studied. Next-generation sequencing was performed to examine 161 genes for oncogenic driver alterations associated with thyroid neoplasia.


The lesions occurred in 11 women and 4 men aged 27 to 80 years and measured 0.2 to 2.3 cm in diameter (mean, 1.1 cm). The tumors were well circumscribed and noninvasive and showed a proliferation of large cells with abundant granular cytoplasm and centrally placed nuclei displaying scattered longitudinal nuclear grooves. Immunohistochemical stains were negative for HBME-1, galectin-3, and CK19 in all cases. NRAS pQ61R was detected in 6 cases, KRAS p.Q61E in 1 case, and AKT2 p.E17K in 1 case. None of the genetic changes classically associated with conventional PTC or with high-grade thyroid malignant neoplasms were identified. Clinical follow-up in 9 patients showed no evidence of recurrence or metastases between 2 and 13 years (mean, 5.7 years).


Longitudinal nuclear grooves can be occasionally encountered in oncocytic (Hürthle cell) tumors and should not lead to a diagnosis of PTC in the absence of other features supporting that diagnosis.

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Author notes

The authors have no relevant financial interest in the products or companies described in this article.