Role of charcoal tattooing in localization of recurred papillary thyroid carcinoma: Initial experiences

Hyungju Kwon, Soon Young Tae, Su Jin Kim, Kyeong Cheon Jung, Ji Hoon Kim, Kyu Eun Lee, Yeo Kyu Youn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Purpose: Surgical excision is the definitive treatment for localized recurrence of papillary thyroid carcinoma. Reoperation for recurrence, however, is challenging and associated with increased operative times and complication rates. For safe and effective reoperation, ultrasound-guided charcoal tattooing localization can be used. The aim of this study was to investigate the feasibility and safety of the ultrasound-guided charcoal tattooing localization. Methods: Between November 2012 and August 2013, ten patients underwent preoperative charcoal tattooing localization for twelve recurrent lesions. Patient demographics, pathologic features, and operation results were reviewed. Results: The technical success rate of charcoal tattooing was 100%. Eight patients had one recurrent lesion, and two patients had double lesions. Among these 12 recurrent lesions, three (25%) were found in level II, four (33%) in level IV, four (33%) in level VI, and one (8%) was found in the thyroidectomy bed site. The mean size of lesions was 0.87 ± 0.35 cm. Of these 10 patients, eight patients underwent selective lymph node dissection, one patient underwent modified radical neck dissection, and one patient underwent recurrent mass excision. Transient hypocalcemia developed in one patient, and no recurrent laryngeal nerve palsy occurred. There were no major complications related to the injection of the charcoal. The mean follow-up period after reoperation was 8.6 ± 2.7 months; in the follow-up ultrasound, there were no remnant lesions in all patients. Conclusion: Preoperative ultrasound-guided charcoal tattooing localization for recurrent thyroid cancer appears to be a feasible and safe procedure for reoperation. Further evaluation is warranted in larger patients' cohorts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)140-144
Number of pages5
JournalAnnals of Surgical Treatment and Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2015, the Korean Surgical Society.


  • Charcoal
  • Recurrence
  • Reoperation
  • Tattooing
  • Thyroid neoplasms


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