Monday, June 20, 2005

A Rare Thyroid Disease in A Teenager

I recently saw a 17 year old high school student, and it reminded me of a patient I saw a few years ago with a similar problem. He had thyroid nodule 3 years before I first saw him. His Pediatrician sent him to see a pediatric endocrinologist. All thyroid tests were normal,except the TSH was slightly low. The Thyroid scan showed a "hot" Nodule, with suppressed thyroid uptake on the other side.The 6/24 HR uptakes were normal.He was followed 3 times a year. The nodule increased in size, the TSH decreased, and the T3 increased, but still in the normal range. Because the T3 was still normal, inspite of significant decrease in TSH, there was no therapy given. Finally, one year later the T3 was abnormally elevated.
The TSH was very low. He had increased resting heart rate in the 90's. Again, there was no therapy for hyperthyroidism offered. He was seen again 5 months later, and the again the tests clearly confirm T3 Toxicosis. They considered surgery vs. radioiodine, but deferred to an adult endocrinologist. The reason they gave was they were not used to treating a teenager with Toxic Nodule, just Graves' Disease.
There was no anti-thyroid drug, or beta blocker given. The tests again showed T3 toxicosis at the second opinion 4 months later. The recommendation was for surgery, but no therapy was offered. 3 months later he was still untreated, and referred to me.
He was 17. School grades were poor. He had poor concentration, and memory problems.He had sweats, felt jittery, and had palpitations, and lost 12 pounds from his normal weight.Also had symptoms of hypoglycemia, without diabetes. Mentally, He had nightmares, a short temper,and felt very tense.
PE: WT loss 12 LBS, BP 110/60 P 130 regular
With mild exercise up stairs the pulse increased to 180. Proximal muscle weakness, and a large visible mass on the right side of his neck. The U.S. showed a 5 cm mixed mass. It was 2.5 cm larger that 3 years ago. in benign thyroid nodules.The scan confirmed a hot nodule. The I/123 uptake was elevated at 60 % N 8-32%. My testing confirmed hyperthyroidism secondary to a toxic nodule. This is rare in teenagers. The T3 was elevated, TSH was non-detectable, and the T4 was upper normal.
He finally had surgery after 6 weeks, when he was euthyroid. He is doing well in college now.

The time between childhood and adulthood, can be a wasteland for teenage thyroid patients. His health, and schooling suffered because he had a rare disease, Toxic Nodule in childhood, which is common in older adults.There was never any therapy given to combat his hyperthyroidism, and only a plan for definitive surgery, or radioiodine was offered. He needed to be rendered euthyroid before surgery anyway, and even probably before radioiodine. Surgery is the therapy of choice for a teenager. A more rapid referral to adult endocrinologist, who is used to treating toxic nodules in the adult population, may have saved 2 years of reduced health and poor school grades.


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