Thyroid Nodules

What are thyroid nodules?

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in the neck that produces hormones that are important for growth and metabolism. A thyroid nodule is a lump that forms within the thyroid gland. Thyroid nodules can be solid or filled with fluid (cystic). Most thyroid nodules that develop in children are benign (not cancerous); however, careful evaluation is important to detect the 20 percent of thyroid nodules that are thyroid cancer.

Most thyroid nodules in children are discovered as a lump in the front of the neck found by the patient, by a parent, or by a physician during a routine examination. Some thyroid nodules are discovered by chance during medical imaging performed for another reason.

How we care for thyroid nodules at Boston Children’s Hospital

Children and adolescents with thyroid nodules are treated by the integrated multi-disciplinary team in the Boston Children’s Hospital Thyroid Center.

The Thyroid Center is one of the oldest and most experienced centers in the United States devoted exclusively to the care of children with thyroid diseases. The specialists in this multidisciplinary program have expertise in thyroid ultrasound, fine-needle aspiration, thyroid surgery, nuclear medicine imaging, and radioactive iodine therapy. Our investigators are at the forefront of research into the diagnosis and treatment of childhood thyroid nodules. Our recent findings have changed the way thyroid nodules in children are evaluated by showing that adult systems for thyroid nodule evaluation, which have long been applied directly to children, require modifications to work optimally in a pediatric population.