Radioiodine therapy in non-toxic multinodular goitre: The possibility of effect-amplification with recombinant human TSH (rhTSH)

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There is no consensus regarding the optimum treatment of benign non-toxic goitre. L-thyroxine suppressive therapy is widely used, but there is poor evidence of its efficacy, and it may have serious adverse effects on health. Surgery is first choice in large goitres or if malignancy is suspected. 131I therapy results in a one-year goitre reduction of around 40% in multinodular goitres, usually with a high degree of patient satisfaction and improvement of the inspiratory capacity. The effect is attenuated with increasing goitre size. The risk of hypothyroidism is 22-58% within 5-8 years. A sufficient thyroid 131I uptake is mandatory for 131I therapy to be feasible and pre-stimulation with recombinant human TSH (rhTSH) increases this considerably. This leads to an increased absorbed thyroid dose by approx.75%, mainly in those patients with the lowest thyroid 131I uptake, and a more homogeneous intrathyroidal isotope distribution. Pre-stimulation with even a small dose of rhTSH seems to allow a reduction of the 131I activity while still achieving a mean goitre reduction of approximately 40% within a year. A significantly lower extrathyroidal radiation is achieved by this approach. With an unchanged 131I activity, rhTSH pre-stimulation improves the goitre reduction by 30-50%. However, this is at the expense of a higher rate of hypothyroidism, cervical pain and transient thyrotoxicosis. Of particular concern is the observation made in healthy persons, that rhTSH results in a transient average thyroid volume increase of 35%. A similar goitre swelling may cause problems in susceptible patients during rhTSH-augmented 131I therapy. Thus, this concept still needs a closer evaluation before routine use.
Original languageEnglish
JournalActa Oncologica
Issue number8
Pages (from-to)1051-1058
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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