Purpose Drop-out in clinical long-term follow-up is a general problem that is potentially harmful to patients. No data about patients that drop out from thyroid ultrasound follow-up is available literature. The aim of the present retrospective study was to evaluate the characteristics of patients that dropped out from ultrasound thyroid nodule follow-up. Patients and methods We reviewed medical records of all consecutive patients who underwent a fine needle aspiration from January 2007 to March 2009 in our department. All the patients with benign nodule(s) were recommended annual ultrasounds; patients who had dropped out from follow-up were included and a telephone interview was obtained to evaluate the reasons for dropping out. Results 289/966 (30%) of patients with benign nodules dropped out during follow-up; 94% of them within the first 5 years. Phone interviews were obtained from 201/289 (70%) of the patients. In the 57% of cases, the main declared reason for dropping out was nodular dimension stability during the first 2-3 years; 8.7% of them had forgotten about the appointment; 6.4% of subjects claimed to check only serum TSH, and 3.2% stated that they would undergo an ultrasound only if the nodule(s) were symptomatic. Finally, 10.7% patients continued follow-up in other centres. Conclusion we showed that a third of patients miss their thyroid ultrasound follow-ups, and that the major cause is the low perceived threat coming from the disease. As a certain amount of drop-out is inevitable, attempting to reinforce our patients' awareness regarding their own health state is mandatory.
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