Thyroid Center

Founded in 2001, the Thyroid Center at Boston Children’s Hospital is one of the first and largest centers in the United States exclusively devoted to the care and treatment of children with thyroid conditions. We offer clinical evaluation and treatment for infants, children, and adolescents with all types of thyroid disease, including thyroid nodules, thyroid cancer, hyperthyroidism, and hypothyroidism.

When it comes to the treatment of thyroid nodules and thyroid cancer, experience is crucial. Although thyroid cancer is less common in children than in adults, the rate of surgical complications is higher, perhaps because few surgeons are well versed in the treatment of pediatric thyroid disease. At Boston Children’s Thyroid Center, our pediatric surgeons specialize in the care of children and adolescents with thyroid disease, making us one of the most experienced centers of its kind in the country. This breadth and depth of knowledge result in exceptional outcomes and a low rate of surgical complications, which means that you can trust that your child is in the best hands.

Our approach to thyroid disease

While thyroid disorders can profoundly affect a child’s health and development, highly effective treatments are available. Our center is distinguished by our expertise in:

  • thyroid ultrasound, a safe and painless method of imaging that helps doctors determine the size and characteristics of thyroid nodules.
  • ultrasound-guided fine-needle aspiration, a very safe, minor procedure that is better than a major surgical biopsy for evaluating thyroid nodules and thyroid cancer. Our Thyroid Center physicians have performed more than 1,000 of these procedures in children. In almost all cases, fine-needle aspiration can be performed without the need for sedation, making the procedure faster and safer.
  • radioactive iodine therapy for thyroid cancer or hyperthyroidism; this therapy — given either as a capsule or a tasteless liquid — makes use of the thyroid gland’s natural need for iodine to treat overactive or cancerous thyroid cells.
  • leading-edge and experimental therapies for patients with advanced or difficult-to-treat thyroid cancer, through our collaboration with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

To care for your child’s specific needs, our team includes experts in endocrinology, surgery, radiology, pathology, and oncology at Boston Children’s and Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center to deliver integrated multidisciplinary care. Our center also offers individualized support from experienced nurses, social workers, and psychology staff, as well as a dedicated clinic coordinator to work closely with your family. And because most pediatric thyroid disorders are life-long, we work closely with our partners at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute to provide a seamless transition for patients who need world-class thyroid care extending into adulthood.

Our areas of innovation

In addition to providing treatment for our patients, the Thyroid Center conducts research aimed at improving the care of children with thyroid disease. We are leaders in the field of research in pediatric thyroid care and continue to produce the most and highest-quality research in this area nationally. Our innovations include:

  • being the first center to implement a standardized approach to the evaluation and care of pediatric thyroid nodules, which is now the accepted standard of care
  • pioneering the use of intra-operative ultrasound to improve the thoroughness of neck dissection in children
  • discovering how adult systems for thyroid nodule evaluation, which have long been applied directly to children, require modifications to work optimally in a pediatric population
  • publishing surgical outcomes as good as those of high-volume adult thyroid surgeons, which is rarely achieved in pediatric programs

Our ongoing clinical research focuses on improving the diagnosis and treatment of childhood thyroid nodules, thyroid cancer, and thyroid gland dysfunction. Read more about our past and current research projects.