Differentiated thyroid carcinomas are the most common malignancies of endocrine organs. Metastases to cervical lymph nodes occur in 20-50 % of cases. Recurrence and survival rates are closely related to the type of surgery performed. High-resolution ultrasonography (USG) is a sensitive imaging method used to detect occult lymph node metastases in patients with thyroid cancer. We evaluated how intraoperative USG affected surgical success. This was a retrospective study comparing two groups of patients with thyroid carcinoma who underwent cervical lymph node dissection. A total of 101 patients (33 males and 68 females) were included. Group 1 included 53 patients who underwent surgery with intraoperative USG guidance. Group 2 included 48 patients who underwent surgery without the use of USG. All patients were followed up (mean 23 months; range 5-44 months) with thyroglobulin measurements and USG evaluations. Group 1 (intraoperative USG) had a residual/recurrent tumor rate of 1.9 % (1/53 patients). Group 2 had a residual/recurrent tumor rate of 12.5 % (6/48 patients). A statistically significant difference appeared between the residual/recurrent tumor rates in Groups 1 and 2 (p < 0.05). In addition to its classical use in diagnosis and follow-up, intraoperative use of high-resolution USG can improve surgical success and may decrease the number of residual/recurrent tumors encountered during follow-up.