Hobnail variant of papillary thyroid carcinoma: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Lane B. Donaldson, Flora Yan, Patrick F. Morgan, John M. Kaczmar, Jyotika K. Fernandes, Shaun A. Nguyen, Rachel L. Jester, Terry A. Day

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Objective: The hobnail variant of papillary thyroid carcinoma (HVPTC) has emerged as a rare and aggressive variant of papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC). We aim to determine the prevalence and clinicopathologic factors of HVPTC. Methods: A systematic review of the literature for studies examining HVPTC was performed. Four databases (PubMed, Scopus, OVID, Cochrane library) were queried from inception of databases through March 20th, 2020. Results: Sixteen studies with 124 cases of HVPTC were included. The mean age for all patients was 52.3 years. HVPTC had a prevalence of 1.08% out of all PTC cases, with a mean tumor size of 3.1 cm. In 62% and 50% of cases, lymphovascular invasion and extrathyroidal extension were present, respectively. Follow-up data, with a mean of 49.9 months, revealed a 66% rate of lymph node metastasis and 23% rate of distant metastasis. Tumors with ≥30% hobnail morphology had a 2.6-fold increased odds of developing lymph node metastasis compared with <30% hobnail morphology, however did not differ in rates of distant metastasis. Patients ≥55 years old had a 4.5-fold increased odds of distant metastasis and a 4.7-fold increased odds of lymphovascular invasion over patients <55. Conclusions: High rates of locoregional and distant disease as well as high-risk pathological factors reveal the aggressive nature of HVPTC. Diagnostic criteria regarding percentage of hobnail morphology requires further refinement. Further studies are warranted in order to better understand how recognition of this high-risk variant impacts clinical treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-39
Number of pages13
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Hobnail variant papillary thyroid cancer
  • Papillary thyroid cancer
  • Systematic review
  • Thyroid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


Dive into the research topics of 'Hobnail variant of papillary thyroid carcinoma: a systematic review and meta-analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this