Radioiodine treatment of hyperthyroidism: fixed or calculated doses; intelligent design or science?
This study was performed with three aims. The first was to analyse the effectiveness of radioiodine therapy in Graves' disease patients with and without goitres under conditions of mild iodine deficiency using several tissue-absorbed doses. The second aim was to detect further parameters which might be predictive for treatment outcome. Finally, we wished to determine the deviation of the therapeutically achieved dose from that intended. Activities of 185–2,220 MBq radioiodine were calculated by means of Marinelli's formula to deliver doses of 150, 200 or 300 Gy to the thyroids of 224 patients with Graves' disease and goitres up to 130 ml in volume. Control of hyperthyroidism, change in thyroid volume and thyrotropin-receptor antibodies were evaluated 15±9 months after treatment for each dose. The results were further evaluated with respect to pre-treatment parameters which might be predictive for therapy outcome. Thyroidal radioiodine uptake was measured every day during therapy to determine the therapeutically achieved target dose and its coefficient of variation. There was a significant dose dependency in therapeutic outcome: frequency of hypothyroidism increased from 27.4% after 150 Gy to 67.7% after 300 Gy, while the frequency of persistent hyperthyroidism decreased from 27.4% after 150 Gy to 8.1% after 300 Gy. Patients who became hypothyroid had a maximum thyroid volume of 42 ml and received a target dose of 256±80 Gy. The coefficient of variation for the achieved target dose ranged between 27.7% for 150 Gy and 17.8% for 300 Gy. When analysing further factors which might influence therapeutic outcome, only pre-treatment thyroid volume showed a significant relationship to the result of treatment. It is concluded that a target dose of 250 Gy is essential to achieve hypothyroidism within 1 year after radioiodine therapy in Graves' disease patients with goitres up to 40 ml in volume. Patients with larger goitres might need higher doses.