Background: The efficacy of prophylactic central compartment lymph node dissection for papillary thyroid carcinoma remains controversial. We performed a randomized controlled trial to evaluate the efficacy and safety of prophylactic central compartment lymph node dissection in patients with papillary thyroid carcinoma. Methods: In this parallel-group randomized controlled trial, we assessed 101 patients aged 20 to 70 years with small/noninvasive papillary thyroid carcinoma and no clinical metastases or history of cervical surgery/radiation exposure. Randomization ran from April 2015 to November 2017. Data were collected between April 2015 and October 2020. Of the 101 enrolled patients, 50 underwent total thyroidectomy (TTx group) and 51 underwent total thyroidectomy as well as prophylactic central compartment lymph node dissection (TTx+pCND group). Surgical completeness, local recurrence, successful ablation, postoperative complication, and papillary thyroid carcinoma upstaging were compared between the 2 groups. Results: No patient showed structural recurrence after 46.6 ± 9.1 months of follow-up. Both groups had similar rates of surgical completeness and successful ablation. There was no difference in the incidence of complications. More patients were upstaged to pN1a in the TTx+pCND group compared to those in the TTx group (P < .05). Conclusions: Prophylactic central compartment lymph node dissection detected more lymph node metastases but did not affect recurrence. The 2 groups showed similar outcomes with regard to surgical completeness, successful ablation, and complications. In conclusion, for small/noninvasive papillary thyroid carcinoma without clinical evidence of lymph node metastases, prophylactic central compartment lymph node dissection may not be required if total thyroidectomy is planned.
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