Graves' disease in children and adolescents. Late results of surgical treatment

in European Journal of Endocrinology
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Rudberg C, Johansson H, ÅÅ G, Tuvemo T, Karlsson FA. Graves' disease in children and adolescents. Late results of surgical treatment. Eur J Endocrinol 1996;134:710–5. ISSN0804–4643

All children and adolescents with Graves' disease in the county of Uppsala (catchment area population 250000) treated between 1970 and 1994 were evaluated in a retrospective study. The material comprised 31 patients with a mean age of 11 years (range 4–16), 29 (94%) of whom were girls, and four (13%) of the patients had Down's syndrome. Treatment was primarily conservative and surgery was considered if prolonged medical treatment failed. Lasting remission after antithyroid drug therapy (median 6.5 years; range 4.5–8 years) was noted in 6/31 patients (19%), three (10%) of whom subsequently developed hypothyroidism. Twenty-four of the remaining patients (77%) ultimately underwent subtotal (N=20) or total thyroidectomy (N=4) after experiencing one or more episodes of recurrent hyperthyroidism during medical treatment (median 6 years; range 0.5–11 years). After surgery one patient developed permanent hypocalcemia requiring low-dose vitamin D supplementation. During a postoperative follow-up period of 12.2 years (median: range 1–17 years), there were two cases of recurrent thyrotoxicosis, 1 and 10 years after surgery. The results underline that gender and Down's syndrome are risk factors of juvenile Graves' disease and that the disorder often is difficult to control by long-term medical therapy. In such cases thyroid surgery offers a safe and prompt reversal of the thyrotoxicosis. A proportion of the patients may ultimately develop hypothyroidism, substantiating a need for long-term follow-up of persons afflicted with Graves' disease early in life.

F Anders Karlsson, Department of Medicine, University Hospital, S-751 85 Uppsala. Sweden


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