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  1. 1. Department of Nuclear Medicine Information leaflet about the treatment of thyrotoxicosis using radioiodine This leaflet provides information about using radioiodine to treat thyrotoxicosis. It explains how this treatment is given and the safety precautions you need to follow after the treatment. It also answers some of the most common questions people ask about this treatment. If any of the information is not clear or if you have questions not answered by this leaflet, then please ring the Department of Nuclear Medicine on 02920 316237. 1
  2. 2. What is thyrotoxicosis? Thyrotoxicosis occurs when the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone. What is radioiodine treatment? Radioiodine treatment uses a form of iodine that is radioactive. The iodine is taken up by the thyroid gland and the radioactivity 'slows down' the thyroid's production of certain hormones. Why has radioiodine treatment been suggested? Your doctor will have explained that there are different types of treatment for thyrotoxicosis. Radioiodine has been suggested as a suitable treatment for you. Where else in my body will the radioiodine go? Most of the radioiodine will go to your thyroid. The rest will pass from your body in your urine. How will the radioiodine be given? The radioiodine is normally given in the form of a capsule. If you cannot swallow capsules, then it may be possible to arrange for you to have the radioiodine in the form of a small drink. 2
  3. 3. Will I feel ill afterwards? No, you should feel no immediate after-effects except possibly a slightly sore throat. What about my tablets? If your tablets are for controlling your thyrotoxicosis, then you may need to stop these for some time. You will be told how long to stop them for by your hospital doctor during your clinic visit or in your appointment letter before your treatment. Otherwise there should be no need to stop any other tablets. Can I have the treatment if I am pregnant? Your doctor is the best person to advise you on this. Generally pregnant women will only receive radioiodine if the doctor who requests this treatment considers that this is in your best interests. Are there any risks in having children afterwards? 50 years experience of using radioiodine has shown no effect on the health of children of patients who have had this treatment. However, you should avoid pregnancy for at least four months (but ideally six months to allow adequate clinical follow up) after radioiodine treatment. You will be asked to stop breast-feeding if you are doing so. Male patients will be asked to avoid fathering children for four months after radioiodine treatment. 3
  4. 4. How long before I can return to work? You will probably need to take some time off work. This will depend on the amount of radioiodine you receive and, possibly, on the type of work you do. For example if you are working with children or pregnant women you may need to be off work longer. If your work involves the use of photographic film again you may need more time off. You will be advised of the actual time you need to take off work. This will either be during your hospital clinic visit or when you are in the Nuclear Medicine Department. Here is a rough guide to the time off work you may need: • If you work on your own and do not come into long periods of close contact with other members of the public you can return to work immediately. This means that you do not normally work within six feet of anyone else for longer than one hour. • If you work with other adults, none of whom could be pregnant, then you can return to work after between 11 and 16 days. • If you work with other adults, one or more of whom could be pregnant or if you work with children then you can return to work after 21 to 27 days. • If your work does not fit in with any of the above, or you feel your situation is not clear, then please ring the Nuclear Medicine Department at Velindre Hospital for further advice. The telephone number is on page 7. 4
  5. 5. Will there be any danger to my family or other people? No, but you will be told to follow some simple rules to reduce the risks to them. The length of time you will have to follow these rules depends on the amount of radioiodine your hospital doctor has prescribed. The exact length of time will be discussed with you before you receive your radioiodine. What are these precautions likely to be? You will be advised to: i) Avoid using public transport for journeys longer than one hour ii) Avoid going to places of public entertainment (for example a cinema or restaurant) iii) Avoid sharing a bed with your partner iv) Use your own cutlery and dishes and wash them separately v) Flush the toilet twice after use These precautions usually apply for between 11 and 16 days. Again you will be advised about this. You will also be asked to avoid prolonged close contact with children and pregnant women for between 21 and 27 days. Will I need to see a doctor after my radioiodine treatment? Yes, you will see either the doctor who saw you in hospital or your GP. You will need a blood test to check the effect of the treatment on your thyroid. 5
  6. 6. How many radioiodine treatments will I need? Usually, one treatment is enough. Sometimes however two or three treatments are needed. The blood tests will help decide exactly how many you need. Are there any long-term side effects? No, except that your thyroid gland may become under- active. This could happen within a few weeks or many years after treatment. The blood tests which check your thyroid will pick this up. What happens if my thyroid does become under-active? You will be given tablets called 'Thyroxine' which usually have no side effects. 6
  7. 7. If you have any other questions, please ask when you come to the hospital. We want you to understand what the treatment involves. For further information, please contact the Nuclear Medicine Department on: 029 2031 6237 or 029 2031 6236 7
  8. 8. Velindre Cancer Centre Velindre Road, Whitchurch, Cardiff, CF14 2TL This leaflet was written by health professionals. The information contained in this leaflet is evidence based. It is reviewed and updated every 2 years. 8 Prepared March 2004 Reviewed August 2010