Surgical management of pediatric Graves' disease: an effective definitive treatment

Pediatr Surg Int. 2012 Jun;28(6):609-14. doi: 10.1007/s00383-012-3095-5. Epub 2012 Apr 29.


Purpose: The optimal treatment for pediatric Graves' disease (GD) is controversial. Antithyroid drugs are often used initially, but they are associated with a high failure rate. Therefore alternative therapies have become important. In the present study, we analyze our institution's experience regarding the safety and efficacy of thyroid surgery among pediatric patients with GD.

Methods: This is a retrospective chart review of 27 pediatric patients (age ≤ 18 years) with GD who underwent thyroid surgery between 1991 and 2009 at a single academic Institution. We recorded preoperative, intraoperative, and short-term postoperative data.

Results: All 27 patients were initially treated with thionamides. The high rate of hyperthyroidism relapse after discontinuation of medical treatment, age < 5 years, adverse reaction to medical therapy, severe ophthalmopathy, and patient preference justified the final decision to proceed with surgery as definitive therapy. All patients underwent total thyroidectomy. We had no mortality; surgical complications were rare: 4 (14.8 %) cases of transient hypocalcemia, 1 (3.7 %) of permanent hypocalcemia, 3 (11.1 %) of transient RLN neuropraxia, and 2 (7 %) of keloid scar. No bleeding, permanent RLN palsy or relapse hyperthyroidism were reported.

Conclusions: Surgical therapy for pediatric GD performed by experienced thyroid surgeons is a safe, definitive and cost-effective treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Graves Disease / diagnosis
  • Graves Disease / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome