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Thyroid Nodules (cont.)

Radioactive Iodine

131-IODINE (I-131) concentrates in the thyroid tissue and cause tissue destruction. I-131 can be administered as a capsule or in liquid form.

  • I-131 can be used to treat multinodular goiters with nodules that are producing extra thyroid hormone. Such cases are indicated by a low TSH level and elevated thyroid hormone level in the blood or a "hot" nodule on radionuclide (I-123) thyroid scan.
  • After I-131 destroys the thyroid, the patient develops an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) and requires thyroid hormone replacement for life to maintain a normal level of thyroid hormones in the blood. Thyroid hormone replacement consists simply of taking a pill once daily by mouth. Thyroid hormone replacement is safe, easily tolerated, and relatively inexpensive.

Thyroid Hormone Suppression

There is controversy regarding whether physician-supervised administration of thyroid hormone may shrink the size of thyroid nodules. Many doctors believe that thyroid hormone does not effectively shrink nodules. Furthermore, there is the risk of high blood levels of thyroid hormone in patients with multiple thyroid nodules (multinodular goiter). However, clinical trials have shown that suppressive therapy may be successful in shrinking some thyroid nodules. Doctors may make this decision on a case-by-case basis and research is still ongoing to determine the efficacy of this type of treatment. It is important to discuss the pros and cons of suppressive thyroid hormone therapy with your doctor.

Medically reviewed by John A. Seibel, MD; Board Certified Internal Medicine with a subspecialty in Endocrinology & Metabolism

REFERENCES: Anaplastic Thyroid Carcinoma. Evaluation of Solitary Thyroid Nodule. Follicular Thyroid Carcinoma Clinical Presentation. Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma Clinical Presentation. Thyroid Lymphoma.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/18/2015

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