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Low-iodine diet has been employed to achieve iodine depletion prior to radioiodine (RI) therapy. However, treatment with diuretics may be more effective than low-iodine diet in causing iodine depletion and subsequent increase in RI uptake by the thyroid. Fifty-five patients with non-toxic goitre were given 0.20 MBq RI p.o. on the first day of the study and thyroid uptake was measured. In 15 patients, a low-iodine diet was started and continued for 14 days. The remaining 40 patients received furosemide 40 mg/day orally for 5 days with an unrestricted diet. On the 15th day of the study, all patients were given 0.20 MBq RI p.o. and thyroid RI uptake was measured again. Additionally, 24-h urinary iodine excretion and RI clearance were measured on the 1st and 6th days in 21 patients from the furosemide group and on the 1st and 15th days in eight patients from the diet group. Furosemide administration led to a 58.40% increase in iodine uptake over the baseline value, which was significantly higher than the increase caused by low-iodine diet (17.22%) (P<0.0001). Urinary excretion of RI decreased in both groups similarly (furosemide, 29.45%; low-iodine diet, 21.06%; P=0.33). Iodine clearance also decreased in each group similarly (10.61% vs 7.53%, P=0.53). Treatment with furosemide prior to administration of RI increases the uptake of RI by the thyroid more effectively than does low-iodine diet.