Thyroid Ultrasound Findings in Children from Three Japanese Prefectures: Aomori, Yamanashi and Nagasaki

Naomi Hayashida, Misa Imaizumi, Hiroki Shimura, Noriyuki Okubo, Yasushi Asari, Takeshi Nigawara, Sanae Midorikawa, Kazuhiko Kotani,Shigeyuki Nakaji, Akira Otsuru, Takashi Akamizu, Masafumi Kitaoka, Shinichi Suzuki, Nobuyuki Taniguchi, Shunichi Yamashita, Noboru Takamura,for the Investigation Committee for the Proportion of Thyroid Ultrasound Findings

Published: December 23, 2013DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0083220


Due to the likelihood of physical and mental health impacts following the unprecedented accident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant, the Fukushima prefectural government decided to conduct the Fukushima Health Management Survey to assist in the long-term health management of residents. This included thyroid ultrasound examination for all children in Fukushima. For appropriate evaluation of ultrasound screening of the thyroid, it is important to understand its reference data of thyroid findings in children in general. In order to analyze the frequencies of specific thyroid findings, we conducted ultrasound screening of the thyroid by the same procedures as used in Fukushima in 4,365 children, aged 3 to 18 years, from three Japanese prefectures. Overall, thyroid cysts were identified in 56.88% and thyroid nodules in 1.65% of the participants. Thyroid cysts and nodules with a maximum diameter of more than 5 mm were identified in 4.58% and 1.01%, respectively, and age-adjusted prevalences were 3.82% and 0.99%, respectively. Although the prevalence of cysts and nodules varied among the examination areas, no significant differences were observed among the three examination areas in the prevalence of cysts and nodules with a maximum diameter of more than 5 mm. Also, the prevalence of thyroid cysts and nodules, especially those with a maximum diameter of more than 5 mm, significantly increased with age, and showed a female predominance. We also identified ectopic thymus (1.95%), diffuse goiter (1.40%), ultimobranchial body (0.73%), lymph node swelling (0.21%) and thyroid agenesis (0.05%). This is the first ultrasound description of the age-adjusted prevalence of thyroid cysts and nodules, or of the prevalence of abnormalities other than cysts and nodules, such as ectopic thymus, in relation to age, in the general Japanese child population. We contend that this can provide relevant information for the Fukushima Health Management Survey and future population studies.