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REVIEW ARTICLE
Year : 2011  |  Volume : 15  |  Issue : 6  |  Page : 89-94

Clinical scoring scales in thyroidology: A compendium


1 Department of Endocrinology, Bharti Hospital, Karnal, Haryana; Department of Endocrinology, BRIDE, Karnal, Haryana, India
2 Department of Endocrinology, BRIDE, Karnal, Haryana, India
3 Department of Endocrinology, Government Medical College, Patiala, Punjab, India

Date of Web Publication29-Jul-2011

Correspondence Address:
Sanjay Kalra
BRIDE, Kunjpura Road, Karnal - 132 001, Haryana
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/2230-8210.83332

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   Abstract 

This compendium brings together traditional as well as contemporary scoring and grading systems used for the screening and diagnosis of various thyroid diseases, dysfunctions, and complications. The article discusses scores used to help diagnose hypo-and hyperthyroidism, to grade and manage goiter and ophthalmopathy, and to assess the risk of thyroid malignancy.

Keywords: Goiter, grading system, malignancy, ophthalmopathy, scoring system, Thyroid dysfunction, Thyroid screening


How to cite this article:
Kalra S, Khandelwal SK, Goyal A. Clinical scoring scales in thyroidology: A compendium. Indian J Endocr Metab 2011;15, Suppl S2:89-94

How to cite this URL:
Kalra S, Khandelwal SK, Goyal A. Clinical scoring scales in thyroidology: A compendium. Indian J Endocr Metab [serial online] 2011 [cited 2017 Mar 24];15, Suppl S2:89-94. Available from: http://www.ijem.in/text.asp?2011/15/6/89/83332


   Introduction Top


Clinical scores have traditionally been used in thyroidology to help in the diagnosis of thyroid dysfunction. The time honored Wayne's score and Billewicz score are well known to older generations of endocrinologists, for their utility in the clinical diagnose of hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, respectively.

Sadly, however, these scores do not find place in current textbooks of surgery or medicine, having been discarded as being too old fashioned. Current students of medicine therefore do not have easy access to these, and to newer scoring systems in thyroidology.

Newer clinical scores and grading systems have also been developed by workers, highlighting the numerous diagnostic developments and advances in the field. Results from imaging studies such as ultrasound are also used in grading thyroid malignancy.

This compendium seeks to bring together, and comment upon, the various scoring and grading systems used in clinical endocrinology. It is hoped that this collation will be of use to endocrinologists, physicians, and all workers in the field of thyroidology.


   Goiter Top


The diagnosis of goiter is a clinical one arrived at by inspection and palpation. The presence of goiter does not necessarily indicate thyroid dysfunction.

The World Health Organization has classified goiter in a simple, objective manner, into three grades. [1] This classification can be used to grade, compare, and monitor thyroid enlargement [Table 1], with minimal inter- and intraobserver bias. [2]
Table 1: WHO classification of Goiter


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   Hyperthyroidism Top


Grave's disease is used to describe the diffuse hyperplasia of the thyroid gland. The signs and symptoms of Grave's disease can be classified into three groups. [3]

The first groups of symptoms occur because of hyperfunctioning of the thyroid gland and increased catecholamine sensitivity. The second group related to the enlargement of the thyroid, i.e., goitre and its accompanying signs such as thyroid bruit. The third constellation of symptoms and signs is the eye signs, which are a long list of eponymous conditions, dreaded by medical students. In addition, there are miscellaneous clinical features, affecting the skin, muscles and other systems. [3] These symptoms and signs have been used to prepare a simple clinical score for diagnosis and screening.

Wayne's Index is more than half a century old, [4] but has shown remarkable success in helping diagnose hyperthyroidism [Table 2].
Table 2: Wayne's Index- Showing the scoring of signs and symptoms for the diagnosis of hypothyroidism


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Nine symptoms and 10 signs are listed, each with differential weightage in scoring. The signs are scored both positively and negatively, i.e., absence of some signs (but not all) gives negative marking. Similarly, two symptoms, i.e., decreased appetite and preference for heat, have negative scores.

The score ranges from + 45 to -25. A score greater than 19 implies toxic hyperthyroidism, while a score less than 11 implies euthyroidism, A score between 11 and 19 is equivocal. Though arrived at by trial and error, it has shown a diagnostic accuracy of 85%.

Wayne's Index was earlier used to help to diagnose hyperthyroidism and limit the number of investigations required. [4] At present, its value lies in its emphasis on clinical thyroidology, and its utility in explaining the clinical features of Grave's disease to thyroid practitioner.


   Opthalmopathy Top


The clinical activity score (CAS), for Grave's opthalmopathy, published in 1997, [5] has become a widely accepted tool to help decide the management of the condition. Grave's opthalmopathy is a biphasic disease, with an initial phase of active inflammation, followed by a "burnt out" phase with stable proptosis and impaired eye muscle mobility.

The CAS, which is based on four classical signs of inflammation (pain, redness, swelling and impaired function), consists of 10 equally weighted items [Table 3]. The total CAS may range from 0 to 10. The higher the CAS, the greater is the response to immunosuppression. A CAS ≥4 implies an active inflammatory stage of Grave's opthalmopathy. Using this CAS cut-off, a specificity of 86%, sensitivity of 55%, positive predictive value of 80%, and a negative predictive value of 64% have been reported in predicting therapeutic outcome. CAS does not differ in duration of disease. [5]
Table 3: Point system used for the clinical activity score


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CAS is able to predict therapeutic outcome based on classical signs and symptoms of inflammation. The sign of "heat" is not used in CAS as it is difficult to detect subtle rises of orbital temperature without special instruments.

A study on CAS [5] found that intraobserver variance was minimal for pain- related symptoms. It was higher for redness of the conjunctiva, which should be diffuse, and cover at least one quadrant to be defined as inflammatory. The CAS is purely clinical, and helps select appropriate therapy for patients with Grave's opthalmopathy.

The NOSPECS classification has been used for over a decade to grade the changes seen in thyroid opthalmopathy in an objective manner. The NOSPECS scores the disease based on soft tissue involvement, corneal involvement, and sight loss [Table 4]. [6]
Table 4: NOSPECS classification


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It is an objective method of assessing disease progression, rather than inflammation. It can be used to grade and monitor patients with minimal interobserver variability.

The NOSPECS classification is also a simple mnemonic which helps emphasize the clinical features of thyroid disease, while making it simple for medical students to remember them.

In passing, one may mention another mnemonic related to thyroid disease. The TEARS mnemonic is useful for remembering the initial management of the condition [Table 5]. [7]
Table 5: TEARS mnemonic for remembering initial management


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   Hypothyroidism Top


The Billewicz score utilizes 8 symptoms and 6 signs to assess the thyroid status, and diagnose hypothyroidism. In a detailed study on 256 euthyroid controls, and hypothyroid patients, 13 symptoms and 8 signs were studied. Initially 14 symptoms and signs were selected and weighted differentially, based on the frequency of their occurrence in hypothyroid patients [Table 6]. [8]
Table 6: Billewicz diagnostic index[6]


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The score may range from + 67 to - 47, with the highest weightage being given to a sluggish ankle jerk and slow movements. Billewicz et al. do not forget to prescribe an effective manner in which to elicit these signs and symptoms, in order to minimize interobserver variability. [8]

Diminished sweating is assessed in a warm room or a centrally heated hall (Billewicz practiced in Aberdeen, Scotland). Dry skin is defined as dryness of skin noted spontaneously, or requiring treatment. Cold intolerance implies a preference for a warm room, extra clothing, or bed clothing. The weight increase is scored as present if the patient reports a recorded increase in weight or complains of tightness of clothing. Similarly, constipation is scored as present if the patient reports a change in bowel habit or use of laxative Hoarseness is assessed in both speaking voice and singing voice, while paresthesia are scored based on subjective sensations. Deafness is defined as progressive improvement of hearing.

Slow movements are noted while observing the patient removing and replacing a buttoned garment. Correction of skin is assessed over the hands, forearms, and elbows, with the examiner checking for roughness and thickening of skin. Cold skin is assessed by comparing the patient's hand temperature with that of the examiners. Periorbital puffiness is defined if it obscures the curve of the malor bone. Billewicz et al. recommend counting the pulse for a 30-s period, and report bradycardia of the pulse <75/min. They elicit the ankle jerk with the patient kneeling on a chair, grasping its back. [8]

A score of +25 or more suggests hypothyroidism, while a score of -30 or less excludes the disease. [8] The score can be used as a screening tool, especially in psychiatric patients. The utility of the Billevicz score lies in its ability to teach students about the clinical features of the disease.

A simple postal questionnaire has also been used to assess in the follow-up of patients treated with radioactive iodine. [9] This is a cost-effective method of screening for hypothyroidism, and can help increase the rate of detection of this condition in patients at risk [Table 7].
Table 7: Postal formulary used to elicit symptoms of hypothyroidism


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Initially designed as a seven-question list, it was later expanded to nine questions, all to be answered as yes or no. Patients with symptoms are investigated for thyroid function, while asymptomatic ones may have investigations deferred. This leads to considerable cost-saving. [9]

The Billewicz score and the postal questionnaire mentioned above were studied at a time when modern methods of diagnosing hypothyroidism were not available.

Zulewski et al. [Table 8] set out to reevaluate the classical signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism in the light of modern laboratory tests. They measured clinical scores, thyroid function, and tissue thyroid status (using ankle reflex relaxation time [ART] and total cholesterol, in 50 hypothyroid, 93 subclinically hypothyroid, 67 treated hypothyroid, and 189 euthyroid female adults. [10]
Table 8: Zulewski's clinical score for hypothyroidism


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The 14 symptoms and signs identified by Billewicz et al. were evaluated. Two features, i.e., pulse rate and cold intolerance, had positive and negative predictive values below 70%, and were excluded.

The most sensitive features were delayed ART (77%) and dry skin (76%), while the most specific were slow movements (98.7%) and diminished hearing (97.5%). A positive predictive value was highest for slow movements (96.5%) and puffiness (94.2%). On the other hand, a negative predictive value was highest for ART (80.3%) and dry skin (72.7%).

As women aged > 55 years also complained of "hypothyroid" symptoms, especially constipation and dry skin, an age-correcting factor was added. One point was added to the sum of symptoms and signs in younger women (aged < 55 years). [10]

A score >5 points defined hypothyroidism, while a score of 0-2 points defined euthyroidism. Sixty two percent of all overt hypothyroidism was detected by the new score (as compared to 42% with the Billewicz score).

The new score was higher in overt hypothyroid smokers than in nonsmokers (7.6 ΁ 3.2 vs. 5.5 ΁ 2.7; P = 0.024). The score demonstrated excellent correlation with tests of tissue hypothyroidism (r = 0.76 for ART, P < 0.0001; r = 0.060 for total cholesterol, P < 0.00001; r = 0.55 for creatine kinase). Surprisingly, no correlation was observed with serum TSH levels (r = 0.01; P = NS). [10]

The clinical score for tissue hypothyroidism deserves wider usage and attention. It has highlighted the common clinical features of the condition, while emphasizing the changes in presentation that have occurred over the past few decades. The score has underscored the concept of tissue hypothyroidism, given an easy method of assessing its severity. It can be used to evaluate patients with discordant laboratory results, and to monitor effects of therapy. [10]

Another simple questionnaire known as the Thyroid Symptom Questionnaire (TSQ) has been used to detect [11] how patients feel on medication. The TSQ questions are derived from symptoms reported by patients to the British Thyroid Foundation Newsletter. [12] The 12 questions are listed in [Table 9].
Table 9: Thyroid symptom questionnaire


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In a group of 597 hypothyroid subjects, and 551 euthyroid controls, significant differences were seen in TSQ screening. A total of 35.0% of controls, 46.8% of patients, and 48.6% of euthyroid patients scored ≥ 3 on the TSQ (P < 0.001 for patients vs. controls, and for euthyroid patients vs. controls).

This community-based study showed that the TSQ can be used to assess well- being in hypothyroid patients on thyroxine replacement. A larger number of patients report dissatisfaction while on treatment. A total of 46.8% of all patients had a TSQ ≥ 3, while 37.2% and 25.9% scored ≥ 4 and ≥ 5 respectively. These values were significantly higher than the 35.0%, 24.9%, and 17.6% of controls who scored similar grades on the TSQ.

Symptoms with highest differences between patients and controls were "remembering things" (P = 0.014 all patients vs. controls), "can't think of the right word" (P = 0.009), "felt tired and lethargic" (P = 0.001). "Able to think clearly" (P = 0.007), and "clumsy, bumped into things and fallen over" (P = 0.034). [11]


   Thyroid Malignancy Top


A grading system for ultrasonologically detected thyroid nodules has recently been reported.

The TIRADS (Thyroid Imaging Reporting and Data System) grades thyroid nodules into six categories (TIRADS 2 to 6). [13]

The sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, negative predictive value, and accuracy were 88, 49, 49, 88, and 94% respectively, when compared with fine-needle aspiration biopsy results.

This grading system can be used to avoid unnecessary interventional procedures. TIRADS 2 represents benign findings; TIRADS 3 is probably benign, while TIRADS 4A and 4B represent undetermined and suspicious findings respectively. An imaging picture consistent with malignancy is graded as TIRADS 5, while TIRADS 6 represents confirmed malignancy [Table 10].
Table 10: US characteristics of thyroid nodules, 10 US with their malignancy risk, and TIRADS category


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The authors feel that patient management and cost-effectiveness improved with the TIRADS, [13] which has established standard codes to be used in both endocrinology and radiology.


   Conclusion Top


This compendium has tried to bring together clinical grading and scoring systems for the diagnosis of goiter, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, and Grave's opthalmoapthy. It highlights the old, as well as relatively modern, methods of clinical diagnosis in thyroidology. The compendium should be useful for medical students and practitioners, as well as physicians and endocrinologists.

The first thyroid score (based on thyroid function tests) was established by Schultz and Ziene in 1956 to predict relapse of thyrotoxic patients after radioactive iodine. [14] The first clinical thyroid score was the index of Crooks, Murray and Wayne, created by trial and error in 1959, [4] which we now know as Wayne's Index. Thyroidology has grown immensely since then. Most of the diagnostic tools and clinical investigations which we use today will not be recognized by those who practised thyroid medicine long ago.

Some things, however, do not change. The need for clinical skills will remain paramount in the assessment and management of thyroid disease, and in fact, all medical conditions. As we complete 55 years of use of the first score in thyroid disease, this is a fitting tribute to the doyens of clinical thyroidology.

 
   References Top

1.WHO/UNICEF/ICCIDD. Chapter 2: Selecting target groups and Chapter 5: Selecting appropriate indicators: Biochemical indicators. In: Indicators for Assessing Iodine Deficiency Disorder and their Control Through Salt Iodination. Geneva: World Health Organization; WHO/NUT/94.6, 1994.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.Delange F, Bastani S, Benmiloud M. Definitions of endemic goiter and cretinism, classification of goiter size and severity of endemias, and survey techniques. In: Dunn JT, Pretell EA, Daza CH, Viteri FE, editors. Towards the eradication of endemic goiter, cretinism, and iodine deficiency. Washington, DC: Pan American Health Organization; 1986. p. 373-6.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.Kendall-Taylor P. Hyperthyroidism. BMJ 1972;2:337-41.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.Crooks J, Murray IPC, Wayne EJ. Statistical methods applied to the clinical diagnosis of thyrotoxicosis. Q J Med 1959;28:211-34.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.Mourits MP, Koornneef L, Wiersinga WM, Prummel MF, Berghout A, van der Gaag R. Clinical criteria for the assessment of disease activity in Graves' Opthalmopathy: A novel approach. Br J Ophthalmol 1989;73:639-44.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.Werner SC. Classification of the eye changes of Graves' disease. Am J Ophthalmol 1969;68:646-8.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.Krassas GE, Heufelder AE. Immunosuppressive therapy in patients with thyroid eye disease: An overview of current concepts. Eur J Endocrinol 2001;144:311-8.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.Billewicz WZ, Chapman RS, Crooks J, Day ME, Gossage J, Wayne E, et al. Stastical Methods applied to the diagnosis of hypothyroidism. Q J Med 1969;38:255-66.  Back to cited text no. 8
    
9.Barker DJ, Bishop JM. Computer- based screening system for patient at risk of hypothyroidism. Lancet 1969;2:835-8.  Back to cited text no. 9
    
10.Zulewski H, Muller B, Exer P, Miserez AR, Staub JJ. Estimation of tissue hypothyroidism by a new clinical score: Evaluation of patients with various grades of hypothyroidism and controls. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 1997;82:771-6.  Back to cited text no. 10
    
11.Saravanan P, Chau WF, Vedhra K, Greenwood R, Dayan CM. Psychological well-being in patients on 'adequate' doses of L-thyroxine: Results of a large, controlled community-based questionnaire study. Clin Endocrinol 2002;57:577-85.  Back to cited text no. 11
    
12.Roberts ND. Psychological problems in thyroid disease. Br Thyroid Found News 1996;18:3.  Back to cited text no. 12
    
13.Horvath E, Majlis S, Rossi R, Franco C, Niedmann JP, Castro A, et al. An ultrasonogram reporting system for thyroid nodules stratifying cancer risk for clinical management. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2009;94:1748-51.  Back to cited text no. 13
    
14.Schultz AL, Ziene L. Alterations in thyroid I-131 uptake, basal metabolic rate and serum cholesterol following treatment of hyperthyroidism with radioactive iodine: Value in early prediction of success or failure of therapy. Am J Med 1956;20:30-41.  Back to cited text no. 14
    



 
 
    Tables

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4], [Table 5], [Table 6], [Table 7], [Table 8], [Table 9], [Table 10]


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  In this article
    Abstract
   Introduction
   Goiter
   Hyperthyroidism
   Opthalmopathy
   Hypothyroidism
   Thyroid Malignancy
   Conclusion
    References
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