The surgical choice for unilateral thyroid carcinoma in pediatrics: Lobectomy or total thyroidectomy?

J Pediatr Surg. 2018 Dec;53(12):2449-2453. doi: 10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2018.08.027. Epub 2018 Sep 14.


Background: Total thyroidectomy is no doubt the standard procedure for patients with bilateral thyroid carcinoma in pediatrics. However, for lesions confined in unilateral thyroid gland, lobectomy or radical total thyroidectomy is still controversial in pediatrics.

Methods: Thirty-five cases of pediatric thyroid carcinoma which were confirmed by pathology were retrospectively analyzed in our hospital from 2005 to 2016. In 13 cases of unilateral lesions, 6 received lobectomy, while others underwent total thyroidectomy. Recurrence and complications were compared between 2 groups. Also, there were 20 cases of primary total thyroidectomy and 4 cases of supplementary resection of the residual gland. The short-term complications were compared.

Results: There were no differences between groups of lobectomy and total thyroidectomy in size, extrathyroid extension, stage, cervical lymph nodes metastases, and distant metastases. They were the same in incidence of postoperative hypocalcemia, calcium supplement, recurrent laryngeal nerve damage, and recurrence rate and mortality, except that the length of stay in hospital was shorter in lobectomy group. Patients in supplementary resection were more likely to present the symptoms of postoperative hypocalcemia and hypokalemia, and it was difficult to identify the parathyroid gland during the operation by comparing with patients of primary total thyroidectomy.

Conclusions: Thyroid carcinoma in pediatrics is inclined to be multifocal, and even in a single focus, the volume is large. Total thyroidectomy does not bring more complications. In contrast, the morbidity increases in staged resection. Endocrine hormone supplement can satisfy the need for growth and development.

Type of study: Treatment study.

Level of evidence: Level III.

Keywords: Lobectomy; Pediatric surgery; Supplementary resection; Thyroid cancer; Total thyroidectomy.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Rate
  • Thyroid Gland / pathology
  • Thyroid Gland / surgery
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Thyroidectomy / adverse effects
  • Thyroidectomy / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome