Thyroid nodules in pediatric patients

Last revised by David Luong on 12 Jul 2021

Thyroid nodules in pediatric patients are much less common than in adults but raise greater concern due to higher rates of malignancy

Thyroid nodules are much less common in children, with an estimated prevalence of around 1-2% 4, compared with adults but have higher rates of malignancy of 20-26%, versus 5-15% in adults 4

Reported risk factors for a higher prevalence of thyroid nodules include 4:

  • head and neck irradiation
  • female gender
  • iodine deficiency
  • age of puberty onset
  • family history of thyroid disease
  • personal history of thyroid disease

Pathologies found in thyroid nodules in children reflect those found in adults and cover the same broad range of pathologies from benign to malignant.

Standard classification systems such as TI-RADS system may be less applicable in children 1, although certain features increase suspicion of being associated with malignancy, such as 1:

  • solitary nodules
  • larger nodule size
  • solid parenchyma
  • taller-than-wide shape
  • speckled calcifications
  • irregular margins
  • abnormal lymph nodes

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