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A B C D E F G H I J K LM N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0-9
(A-Z listing includes diseases, conditions, tests and procedures)
 

Thyroid Nodules

What are thyroid nodules?

Thyroid nodules are growths in the thyroid gland, which is a gland located in the front of the neck and controls many critical functions. Most nodules are benign tissue, but some can be malignant, or cancerous. Thyroid nodules are rare during childhood and adolescence, but they can and do occur. There are several types of nodules: colloid nodule, a benign accumulation of thyroid cells forming one or more nodules on the thyroid gland; follicular adenoma (benign); thyroid cysts (usually benign), small sacs filled with fluid and sometimes with solid parts; inflammatory nodules, formed as a result of chronic inflammation of the gland; and thyroid cancer (typically hard nodules). Some nodules may affect the hormones produced by the thyroid gland, causing symptoms of hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid gland) or hyperthyroidism (overactive gland).

Podcast

There Is a Way to Make Thyroid Surgery Scarless, Elizabeth Tracey Reports

Masses in the thyroid gland that require surgery are very common, with over 100,000 occurring each year in the United States. Jon Russell, M.D., a head and neck surgeon at Johns Hopkins, tells us about a new scarless approach to traditional surgery.

Read more.

Symptoms

Many nodules do not cause symptoms until they are large enough to affect the surrounding tissues and organs or to be visible on the neck. 

Depending on the type and cause of the nodule, symptoms may include:

  • Difficulty swallowing

  • Hoarseness or other voice changes

  • Pain in the neck

  • Visible and/or palpable swelling of the neck (goiter)

  • Sudden, rapid weight loss

  • Rapid or irregular pulse

  • Nervousness, anxiety

  • Cold intolerance

  • Fatigue

  • Dry skin

  • Weight gain

  • Facial edema (swelling)

Diagnosis

  • Physical exam/palpation

  • CT scan

  • Ultrasound of the neck

  • Blood tests to measure the level of thyroid hormones in the blood

  • Biopsy of the nodule, the most definitive test to determine whether a nodule is benign or malignant

When to Call for Help

If your child has any of the symptoms listed above, consult your pediatrician.  

Treatment

Treatment will depend on the type and cause of the nodule. Sometimes watchful observation and regular follow-up is all that is needed. Medication and surgery may also be necessary. 

 

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