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Pediatric Thyroid Disease: When Is Surgery Necessary, And Who Should Be Operating On Our Children?

Christopher K. Breuer, Charles Thompson Tuggle, Daniel G Solomon, Julie Ann Sosa
Published 2013 · Medicine
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Surgical diseases of the thyroid in the pediatric population represent a diverse set of both benign and malignant conditions. Overall, incidence is rare. Benign conditions include Graves’ disease, toxic adenomas, congenital hyperthyroidism, and goiter. Differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC) and medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC), with its related familial cancer syndromes, are the most common malignancies. Near-total or total thyroidectomy is the appropriate surgery for thyroid cancer, with/out central lymph node dissection. Emerging practice guidelines from professional societies are helpful, although they generally have not addressed surgical management of the pediatric patient. Thyroidectomy in children is associated with a higher rate of complications, such as recurrent laryngeal nerve injury and hypoparathyroidism, as compared to the surgery in adults. Therefore, it is essential that pediatric thyroidectomy be performed by high-volume thyroid surgeons, regardless of specialty. Case volume to support surgical expertise usually must be borrowed from the adult experience, given the relative paucity of pediatric thyroidectomies at an institutional level. These surgeons should work as part of a multidisciplinary team that includes pediatric endocrinologists and anesthesiologists, pediatricians, nuclear medicine physicians, and pathologists to afford children the best clinical outcomes. Conflict of interest:None declared.
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