Eighty-two children and adolescents (18 males, 64 females; median age 14 years) surgically treated for Graves' disease at a single institution between 1979 and 1993 were retrospectively reviewed. Most of the patients (74%) coming to thyroidectomy had been treated medically for a period ranging from 2 to 80 (median 15) months. Bilateral subtotal thyroid resection was the must frequently performed procedure (86%). Postoperatively, no permanent recurrent laryngeal nerve palsy or permanent hypocalcemia occurred. Operative mortality was zero. With a median follow-up of 8.3 years, recurrent hyperthyroidism occurred in five patients (6%), one of whom required reoperation. Most children and adolescents with Graves' disease can be rendered euthyroid by nonsurgical treatment options. However, prolonged and ineffective medical treatment should be avoided in these patients who are in the formative years of their lives. Surgical treatment, when indicated and employed, offers young patients with Graves' disease a safe, rapid, definitive, cost-effective treatment with a high success rate.
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