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A Journal on Endocrine System Diseases

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Minerva Endocrinologica 2002 June;27(2):119-26

language: Italian

The management of thyrotoxicosis: a schematic approach

Papi G., Carapezzi C., Corsello S. M.


Thyrotoxicosis is a well defined clinical entity, determined by an increase of plasma levels of thyroid hormones (T3 and T4). A number of causes of thyrotoxicosis are known, and it is therefore very important for the treatment to establish its etiology. In fact, metimazole or propylthiouracil are indicated for the thyrotoxic states caused by thyroid gland's hyperfunction (hyperthyroidism), but are not effective when thyrotoxicosis is determined by a follicular damage and disruption with leakage of preformed thyroid hormones, or in case of thyrotoxicosis factitia. Besides medical therapy, other two therapeutic options are available for the treatment of thyrotoxicosis: radioiodide administration (131I) and surgery. The physician can decide the best therapy on the basis of the following factors: etiology of thyrotoxicosis; patient's age and needs; presence/absence of concomitant diseases or pregnancy; presence of ophthalmopathy; goiter's size; advantages and disadvantages of each therapeutic option. A problem of particular regard is when and if to treat subclinical thyrotoxicosis (low TSH values, and normal plasma levels of thyroid hormones). On the basis of the natural history and of its consequences on the cardiovascular system and skeletal integrity, the authors propose to begin therapy whether subclinical thyrotoxicosis develop in the following four subgroups of subjects: patients with nodular goiter; women in post-menopause; patients with cardiac diseases; patients with osteoporosis.

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