Recombinant human thyroid-stimulating hormone is effective for radioiodine ablation of post-surgical thyroid remnants

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To investigate whether recombinant human thyroid-stimulating factor (rhTSH) is effective for the radiometabolic ablation of post-surgery thyroid remnants, using low doses of 131I.

Patients and methods

The study included two groups of patients enrolled consecutively: group 1 consisted of 52 patients with papillary cancer or minimally invasive follicular cancer (stage I and II), and group 2 consisted of 41 patients with the same stage of disease. All patients underwent a total thyroidectomy. Group 1 received 1.11 GBq (30 mCi) 131I for post-surgical remnants ablation with the aid of rhTSH, while group 2, in the hypothyroid state, received the same amount of radioiodine. To minimize iodine interference, all patients remained on a low iodine diet for 2 weeks and L-thyroxine (L-T4) was stopped for 4 days in the group of patients treated with the aid of rhTSH. To investigate 131I uptake in this group, a tracer dose was administered 3 h after the second injection of rhTSH and the uptake was evaluated at 24 h just before administration of the therapeutic dose. 131I was also measured in the patients treated in the hypothyroid state just before the therapeutic dose was given.


After 1 year both groups were studied by using whole-body scintigraphy (WBS) and measuring thyroglobulin after rhTSH. In group 1, WBS was negative in 76.9% (40 patients), while thyroglobulin-stimulated levels were <1.0 ng · ml−1 in 86.5% (45 patients). In Group 2, WBS was negative in 75.6% (31 patients), while thyroglobulin-stimulated levels were <1 ng · ml−1 in 78.0% (32 patients). 131I uptake was 2.29±0.45 in the group treated with the aid of rhTSH, and 3.30±0.7 in the group treated in the hypothyroid state (P=0.2). No patients treated with the aid of rhTSH and with the short stoppage of L-T4 experienced symptoms of hypothyroidism, and free thyroxine (FT4) and thyroid-stimulating hormone levels remained normal.


Our data confirm that, when the interference of iodine is minimized, rhTSH is highly effective for the treatment of post-surgical thyroid remnants using a low dose of 131I.

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