Perioperative Care of a Child With Hyperthyroidism

Joseph Bonanno, Timothy Grannell, Gregory Maves, Joseph D. Tobias


In pediatric-aged patients, hyperthyroidism generally results from the autoimmune disorder, Graves disease (GD). Excessive levels of thyroid hormones (triiodothyronine and thyroxine) result in irritability, emotional lability, nervousness, tremors, palpitations, tachycardia, and arrhythmias. The risk of morbidity and mortality is increased when surgical intervention is required in patients with hyperthyroidism due to the potential for the development of thyroid storm (TS). A 3-year, 1-month-old child with a past medical history of GD presented for total thyroidectomy when pharmacologic control with methimazole was not feasible due to intolerance following development of a serum sickness-like illness. Prior to surgery, his thyrotoxicosis symptoms worsened with fever, tachycardia, diaphoresis, and hypertension. He subsequently developed TS and was admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit where management included hydrocortisone, potassium iodide, and adrenergic blockade with esmolol and propranolol. Thyroid studies improved prior to surgery, and a total thyroidectomy was successfully completed. Corticosteroid therapy was slowly tapered as an outpatient, and he was discharged home on hospital day 9. Following discharge, his signs and symptoms of thyrotoxicosis resolved, and he was started on oral levothyroxine replacement therapy. The remainder of his postoperative and post-discharge course were unremarkable. Only two case reports of perioperative pediatric TS have been published in the past 20 years. Our case serves as an important reminder of the signs of TS in children and to outline the treatment options in a pediatric patient, especially in those unable to tolerate first-line pharmacologic therapies such as methimazole or propylthiouracil.

J Med Cases. 2024;15(2-3):49-54


Hyperthyroidism; Graves' disease; Thyrotoxicosis; Thyroid storm; Pediatric anesthesiology

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