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Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2010 Aug;164(8):714-9. doi: 10.1001/archpediatrics.2010.114.

Diagnostic features of thyroid nodules in pediatrics.

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  • 1Department of Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetology, University of Torino, Regina Margherita Children's Hospital, Piazza Polonia 94, 10126 Turin, Italy.



To investigate a cohort of pediatric patients with thyroid nodules, defining histotype frequency and differences between subjects with hyperthyroidism and euthyroidism and benign and malignant nodules.


Retrospective cohort.


Consecutive cases from 9 Italian pediatric endocrinology centers for the last 10 years. Patients One hundred twenty pediatric patients with thyroid nodules. Intervention Doppler ultrasonography was performed in 71 subjects; scintiscan, in 56; fine-needle aspiration biopsy in 104; and 63 underwent surgery.


The differences in clinical, laboratory, and ultrasonographic data between patients with hyperthyroidism and euthyroidism and malignant and benign nodules were evaluated.


One hundred fourteen patients had euthyroidism and 6, hyperthyroidism. The latter had more compressive signs (P=.003), greater nodule diameter (P=.02), intranodular vascularization pattern (P=.01), and increased scintiscan uptake (P<.001). Fine-needle aspiration biopsy disclosed benign lesions in 77 cases, malignant lesions in 19, and "suspicious" lesions in 8. Histologic examination disclosed 1 Hurthle cell and 5 follicular adenomas in patients with hyperthyroidism, whereas in patients with euthyroidism, 33 hyperplasic nodules, 19 carcinomas (14 papillary, 3 follicular, and 2 medullary), 3 follicular and 1 Hurthle cell adenoma, and 1 teratoma were detected. Nine patients had enhanced scintiscan uptake. Among the patients with euthyroidism, malignancies more frequently had palpable lymph nodes (P<.001), compressive signs (P=.004), microcalcifications (P<.001), intranodular vascularization (P=.01), and lymph node alterations (P<.001).


The diagnosis of pediatric thyroid nodules should be based on a stepwise evaluation that includes clinical, laboratory, and radiographic modalities. While laboratory assessments establish thyroid function, ultrasonographic imaging identifies clinically unapparent nodules and provides detailed nodule characterization for suspected malignant lesions. Scintiscan in patients with hyperthyroidism and fine-needle aspiration biopsy in patients with euthyroidism represent the next logical step.

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