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Nodular thyroid disease in children and adolescents.

Thyroid nodules in children are extremely uncommon. Most thyroid nodules, both benign and malignant, present as asymptomatic neck masses. A thyroid nodule in a child is significant because of the risk of malignancy. A review of medical records at our institution demonstrated 71 patients 20 years of age and younger with surgically managed thyroid nodules, of which 45 were benign and 26 were malignant. Our diagnostic workup, including serum thyroid studies, radiologic evaluation, and fine-needle aspiration, is discussed. Because of the possibility of malignancy, we recommend that all solitary thyroid nodules be excised in children unless fine-needle aspiration definitively determines a benign histology. The extent and type of surgical management is controversial and is still subject to much debate. Partial thyroidectomy appears adequate for benign disease, but even though there is no statistical difference in survival, we recommend total thyroidectomy for the management of malignant disease.

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