Radioactive Iodine Treatment
DefinitionRadioactive iodine treatment is used to treat certain thyroid diseases and thyroid cancer. The procedure is done with a radioactive form of the element iodine. Radioactive iodine is taken up by the thyroid gland. There it treats thyroid disease by destroying the cells. The radioactivity is not spread to other parts of the body.
|The Thyroid Gland|
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Reasons for ProcedureIt may be done to treat:
Possible ComplicationsPossible side effects and complications of radioactive iodine therapy include:
- Inflammation of the salivary glands causing painful cheeks and dry mouth
- Metallic taste in the mouth
- Dry mouth
- Sore throat
- Pain in the neck
- Nausea or vomiting
- Tightness in throat
- Abnormally high or abnormally low thyroid hormone levels
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
- If advised by your doctor, eat a special diet. Your doctor may want you on a special low iodine diet prior to the procedure. This may help your procedure to be more successful.
- Talk to your doctor about your medications. Some thyroid hormone medicine should be discontinued up to 4 weeks before the procedure. Other medications used to treat hyperthyroidism should be discontinued 5-7 days before the procedure.
- For 2 hours before the procedure, do not eat or drink anything. Water may be allowed.
- If you are a woman of childbearing age, the doctor will do a pregnancy test.
- A thyroid uptake and scan may be done before the treatment.
Description of the ProcedureYou will be given some tablets or liquids that contain radioactive iodine. You will swallow the tablets. The iodine will be naturally taken up by the thyroid.
How Long Will It Take?At least an hour
Will It Hurt?The treatment is painless.
Postoperative CareAny radioactive iodine that is not taken up directly by the thyroid will be passed through the urine. Be sure to follow your doctor's instructions. This may include:
- Do not eat any solid foods for at least 2 hours after treatment. Drink a lot of clear liquids, such as water or juice.
- For the first 8-12 hours following treatment, use the bathroom every hour. This will help flush the excess iodine from your body.
- Limit your contact with others. Do not enter a room with any infants or children. Stay at least 3 feet away from other adults. Do not stay near any other adult for more than a few minutes. Do not share a bed with anyone for 48 hours following the treatment.
- Do not share any food, drink, or dishes with anyone for the first week. Do not allow your saliva to come into contact with anyone. Avoid kissing and sexual contact.
- Flush the toilet twice after use.
- Wash hands often and thoroughly.
- Resume normal thyroid medications 48 hours after the treatment.