Differences in the management of thyroid nodules in children and adolescents as compared to adults.

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Publication Date


Publication Title

Curr Opin Endocrinol Diabetes Obes


california; santa monica; sjci


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: To describe recent advances in the diagnosis and management of thyroid nodules in both children and adults, highlighting differences between the two groups.

RECENT FINDINGS: Thyroid nodules are less common in children than adults but the risk of malignancy is higher. Screening recommendations for patients with certain genetic syndromes or specific risk factors for thyroid nodules and cancer continue to evolve ultrasound is the most appropriate imaging modality for evaluating thyroid nodules in all patients, but radiographic risk stratification systems validated in adults have not been extensively studied in children. Criteria for proceeding to fine needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy differ some between children and adults, with nodule size being less of a consideration in young patients. Molecular testing continues to improve the diagnostic capabilities of FNA for all age groups, but options for pediatric thyroid nodules are currently limited. In children, only oncogene panels are validated and their exact utility, along with miRNA classifiers, is an evolving area of study. For adults, data support selection of a specific molecular test based on ultrasound characteristics and pretest probability of malignancy. Multiple series have shown that fusion mutations are more common in pediatric thyroid nodules, while point mutations are seen more often in adult thyroid nodules. Molecular data help guide management recommendations regarding the need for surgery when FNA is indeterminate, but clinical use is still being refined. Radiofrequency ablation is a nonoperative approach that has gained significant traction for the treatment of symptomatic benign nodules in adults, but data are currently extremely limited in children.

SUMMARY: There are difference in the diagnosis and treatment of thyroid nodules in adults and children, the nuances of which are important for clinical management.

Clinical Institute


Clinical Institute

Kidney & Diabetes

Clinical Institute

Women & Children