Radioiodine Therapy for Thyrotoxicosis
Radioiodine therapy is commonly used to treat thyrotoxicosis (an over-active thyroid) and has been used successfully to do so for several decades. It is a non-invasive alternative to surgery. The radioiodine is taken up naturally by thyroid tissue, in the same way that iodine in food is taken up by the thyroid. The radiation dose to the thyroid reduces the amount of active thyroid tissue, which helps to ease the overactive nature of the thyroid gland.
The aim of this treatment is to make the thyroid produce hormones at a normal level. However, there is a possibility that the treatment could lead to the thyroid becoming underactive. However if this happens, it can be easily managed by taking thyroxine tablets daily. Occasionally the thyroid gland may still be overactive after the therapy, in which case it may need to be repeated at a later date. This would usually be at least 6 months later.
Radionuclide therapy for thyrotoxicosis is carried out on an outpatient basis at the Nuclear Medicine department of the Royal Surrey County Hospital. During the week before having the treatment, patients attend the Nuclear Medicine department for a thyroid uptake scan and a consultation with a Nuclear Medicine doctor. The doctor will use the results of this scan to ensure that the therapy will be a suitable course of action.
If the doctor decides that the therapy is suitable, it takes place the following week. The Radioiodine is given orally in the form of a capsule by a Medical Physicist, who will also give advice on radiation protection precautions that need to be followed after the therapy. This appointment should take around 30 minutes.
The radiation protection advice you will be given will depend on the amount of radioiodine that you receive and what your home and work circumstances are. As a general rule, this will involve keeping at least one metre away from other people, except for up to 15 minutes per day for up to three weeks.
More detailed information on all of this can be found in the Patient Information Leaflet.