What are the purposes of administering radioiodine therapy?
Radioiodine therapy, also known as radioactive iodine (RAI) therapy or I-131 therapy, is a medical treatment used for various thyroid conditions. The primary purposes of administering radioiodine therapy include:
- Treatment of Hyperthyroidism: Radioiodine therapy is most commonly used to treat hyperthyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid gland produces an excessive amount of thyroid hormones. It is often used to treat Graves’ disease and toxic nodular goiter. The radioactive iodine is absorbed by the overactive thyroid tissue and gradually destroys it, reducing the production of thyroid hormones and bringing the thyroid function back to normal.
- Treatment of Thyroid Cancer: Radioiodine therapy is used in the treatment of certain types of thyroid cancer, particularly well-differentiated thyroid cancer (such as papillary and follicular thyroid cancer). After surgical removal of the thyroid gland (thyroidectomy), radioiodine is often administered to destroy any remaining thyroid tissue or cancer cells. This is known as ablation therapy and helps reduce the risk of recurrence.
- Diagnostic Imaging: Radioiodine is also used for diagnostic purposes in nuclear medicine. A small, safe dose of radioactive iodine is administered to visualize the thyroid gland and assess its structure and function. This is called a thyroid scan, which helps diagnose thyroid conditions.
- Localization of Metastatic Thyroid Cancer: In cases where thyroid cancer has metastasized (spread to other parts of the body), radioiodine can be used to locate and treat these distant metastases. Thyroid cancer cells often retain their ability to absorb iodine, making them susceptible to this treatment.
- Postoperative Follow-Up: Radioiodine scans are sometimes used as part of postoperative follow-up for patients who have undergone thyroid surgery for cancer. These scans can help determine if there is any remaining thyroid tissue or metastatic cancer cells.
- Management of Large Goiters: Radioiodine therapy may be used in cases of very large goiters (enlarged thyroid glands) that are not suitable for surgical removal. This treatment can help shrink the goiter and alleviate symptoms.
It’s important to note that radioiodine therapy is a highly effective and safe treatment, but it does come with some potential side effects and precautions. Patients who receive radioiodine therapy should follow guidelines provided by their healthcare providers to minimize radiation exposure to others, particularly pregnant women and young children. The specific use of radioiodine therapy is determined by a patient’s medical condition and the recommendations of their healthcare team