Your Radiologist Explains Radioiodine Therapy for Hyperthyroidism
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Hello! I’m Dr. Ramji Rajendran, a radiation oncologist at the Cancer Institute at Alexian Brothers Medical Center in Elk Grove Village, Illinois. I’d like to talk with you about radioiodine I-131 or radioactive iodine therapy.
Radioactive iodine therapy is used to treat an overactive thyroid, a condition known as hyperthyroidism. The thyroid is a gland in your neck that produces hormones to regulate your body’s metabolism. When your thyroid is overactive, it produces too much of these hormones and accelerates your metabolism. This may leave you feeling nervous or moody or you may experience increased heart rate or high blood pressure.
Radioactive iodine I-131 is a form of iodine used in medical procedures that emits radiation. No equipment is used during radioactive iodine therapy. You will simply swallow a small dose of radioactive iodine, which is absorbed into the bloodstream and taken up by the thyroid where it begins destroying the gland’s cells.
You will be able to return home following treatment, but you should avoid prolonged, close contact with others for several days, especially pregnant women and small children. Most of the radioactive iodine that has not been absorbed by the thyroid will be eliminated by the body during the first two days after treatment.
If you’re scheduled for radioactive iodine therapy, you may be asked not to eat or drink anything and to refrain from taking anti-thyroid medications on the day of your treatment. Be sure to tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding or if there is any possibility you are pregnant.
Your radiologist and treatment team will give you a complete list of precautions for you to follow.
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