The prevalence of hyper- and hypothyroidism in patients with ulcerative colitis

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Background: The association between ulcerative colitis and thyroid disorders has been previously reported. However, most reports consist of single case description, and a systematic assessment of this relationship has only sporadically been investigated.

Aims: To study a cohort of patients with ulcerative colitis to establish the prevalence of hyper- and hypothyroidism.

Material and methods: During a four-year period, we studied thyroid function in 162 ulcerative colitis patients (62 men, 100 women, age range 18–78 years).

Results: Thyroid dysfunction was present in 4 patients (2.5%) of the overall population and was represented by both hypo- (3 patients) and hyperthyroidism (1 patient). The incidence of this kind of thyroid dysfunction was significantly (p = 0.03) lower than that found in a large (more than 5000 subjects) control group.

Conclusions: We conclude that the prevalence of hyper-/hypothyroidism is relatively low in patients with ulcerative colitis, at least in our country, and does not justify a systematic investigation of the thyroid function, except in selected cases, probably those with scarce or no response to standard therapeutic measures.

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