Paepe D., Smets P., Van Hoek I., et al.
Thyroid gland palpation is an important aid for diagnosing feline hyperthyroidism in an early stage to prevent development of deleterious complications. Our objectives were to assess within- and between-examiner agreement for two thyroid gland palpation techniques in cats and to correlate palpation results with ultrasonographic thyroid measurements. Nine client-owned hyperthyroid (12.6†±†2.4 years) and 10 healthy control cats (7.4†±†5.4 years) entered this prospective study. Both thyroid glands of all cats were palpated twice by three blindfolded clinicians with the classic palpation technique [technique 1 (T1)] and the technique described by Norsworthy GD, Adams VJ, McElhaney MR, Milios JA [(2002a) Relationship between semi-quantitative thyroid palpation and total thyroxine concentration in cats with and without hyperthyroidism. Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery 4, 139-143] [technique 2 (T2)]. A semi-quantitative score from 1 to 6 was assigned to the gland size. After clipping of the ventral cervical region, another palpation session followed by ultrasonography of the thyroid glands was performed. Average weighted [kappa]-values within- and between-examiners were 0.864 and 0.644 for T1 and 0.732 and 0.532 for T2. T1 did lead to significantly smaller within- (P†=†0.007) and between-examiner (P†=†0.048) differences than T2. Significant correlation coefficients (P†<†0.001) between the palpation scores of both techniques and ultrasonographic thyroid lobe length (T1: 0.43; T2: 0.38) were observed. No significant difference before and after clipping was found (T1: P†=†0.503; T2: P†=†0.607). The first time that all cats were palpated by either technique, significant score differences between control and hyperthyroid cats were observed both for T1 (P†=†0.002) and T2 (P†=†0.003). Both feline thyroid gland palpation techniques have good within- and between-examiner agreements. Based on this study, the classic palpation technique is preferred.