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There are two primary reasons why pediatric surgeons need to be knowledgeable in the management of thyroid diseases. First, pediatricians and family physicians often refer patients whose primary problem is in the thyroid gland directly to a pediatric surgeon even when the true nature of the problem is unsuspected. Common among this group are patients with a mass in the neck either in the gland itself or in a regional lymph node. These masses are often thought to be due to some other etiology such as an infection or lymphoma. It is not uncommon for a surgeon to biopsy an enlarged jugular node that turns out to contain metastatic papillary thyroid cancer.
Second, pediatric surgeons need to be familiar with the known thyroid diseases that are best treated by surgery. This group includes patients with benign and malignant suspected thyroid neoplasms, hyperfunctioning nodules, Graves’ disease, large goiters and regional nodal metastases from a primary in the thyroid.