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A Journal on Endocrine System Diseases

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Minerva Endocrinologica 2010 September;35(3):161-71

language: English

Role of recombinant human TSH in the management of large euthyroid multinodular goitre: a new therapeutic option? Pros and cons

Ceccarelli C., Brozzi F., Bianchi F., Santini P.

Department of Endocrinology, University of Pisa Medical School and Hospital, Pisa, Italy


Conventional 131I treatment has been used in the last 20 years for large nodular goitres when patients present high surgical risk or simply refuse surgery. 131I therapy causes a mean goitre volume reduction of about 40% after one year. However, the individual response is variable and for low radioiodine uptake and very large goitres, high 131I activities are needed in order to have a adequate 131I accumulation in the thyroid. rhTSH is approved for thyroid cancer management and has been tested off label in large goitres, in whom increases 131I uptake, thus reducing the 131I amount to be administered. The use of lower 131I activities allows to reduce the radiation burden to body and the time of social life restriction. Moreover, depending on the radiation regulations of the different countries, the 131I therapy could be carried out either as outpatients or in a shorter hospitalization period, implying a decrease of costs. The effects of rhTSH on goitre may be due not only to the 131I uptake increase, but also to a more homogeneous distribution of 131I in the gland, and to the thyroid cell activation that makes them more radiosensitive. Acute adverse effects are due to the surge of thyroid hormone in blood and to the goitre volume increase, that cause cardiac symptoms and tracheal compression, respectively. These effects are probably dose dependent and are negligible for rhTSH lower doses.

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