Local reactions to radioiodine in the treatment of thyroid cancer

Lynn A. Burmeister, Rene P. du Cret, Cary N. Mariash

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


purpose: To compare the rate of local complications resulting from radioiodine ablation of thyroid cancer in patients with a residual intact thyroid lobe to that in patients who had more extensive surgical treatment prior to radioiodine administration. patients and methods: We retrospectively studied 59 patients who had received 131I between 1979 and 1989. The patients were divided into two groups, depending on the extent of their previous surgical thyroid excision. Group 1 comprised 10 patients with a lobectomy or hemithyroidectomy before the ablative radioiodine dose, and Group 2 comprised 49 patients with more extensive thyroid excision (near-total or subtotal thyroidectomy) before the radioiodine treatment. results: Sixty percent of the 10 patients in Group 1 experienced some degree of neck pain or tenderness following radioiodine ablation of their residual thyroid. In one case, the local reaction was very severe and accompanied by the development of transient hyperthyroidism. There was only a 6% local complication rate in the patients who had undergone more extensive thyroid excision before ablative therapy (p <0.001), and none had a severe reaction. conclusions: Patients with only unilateral surgical excision before radioiodine therapy have a higher rate of local complications than do patients treated with more extensive surgery prior to radioiodine ablation. If radioiodine is to be employed in such patients, they should be informed of this possible complication. Since evidence supports a dose effect in the pathogenesis of the complications, we recommend using a dose of less than 30 mCi for the initial ablation in these patients even though it may be necessary to repeat this dose to complete thyroid ablation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)217-222
Number of pages6
JournalThe American Journal of Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1991


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