Mercy Medical Center North Iowa

Thyroid Therapy

What is a thyroid therapy?
A thyroid therapy is a form of treatment that uses a radioactive iodine capsule to reduce the amount of functioning thyroid tissue. The practice of using radioiodine to treat one's thyroid is common and well accepted over the world. Radioiodine is used to treat overactive thyroid glands and for certain types of thyroid cancer.  When used to treat overactive thyroids the radiation from the capsule only affects part of the thyroid gland in order to reduce the thyroid's activity.  For thyroid cancers larger amounts of the radioiodine are given in order to destroy all of the diseased thyroid tissue.

Why did the doctor order this for me?
Your doctor has advised you to receive radioactive iodine (I-131) because it is the most appropriate treatment for your thyroid condition.  The purpose of the therapy is to decrease your thyroid cell function. The radiation given off by the iodine decreases the function of your thyroid cells and inhibits their ability to grow. 

What do I need to do to prepare for  the test?
If you are taking any thyroid medication your doctor may ask you to stop four to six weeks before your scheduled therapy.  Multivitamins and Kelp tablets that contain iodine must be discontinued four to six weeks before you are treated.  The treatment also may not be given if you have had a CT scan with iodine contrast within four to six weeks of the therapy.  If you are a woman under the age of 60 you will be required to have a pregnancy test the day of the treatment. Exceptions to this are patients who have had a hysterectomy or a successful tubal ligation for at least two years. 

Please bring your insurance card(s), driver's license and co-pay.

What should I expect when I arrive at the hospital?
You will first need to check in and register at the Radiology Registration desk locate past Mercy Gift Shop to the left. At that time your personal and insurance information will be updated.  Once you are registered, you will be asked to sit in the waiting area. A technologist will call you and take you to the Nuclear Medicine area. 

Who will be in the therapy room with me?
Your family is welcome to accompany you during the treatment. A nuclear medicine technologist will explain the therapy and go over any initial questions you or your family may have.  A radiologist will then discuss the procedure with you and administer the radioiodine.

What will I experience during the therapy?
During the treatment a small capsule will be administered with a glass of water.  You also will be given a form discussing the guidelines you must follow after the therapy.  These guidelines will help reduce any possible radiation exposure to others.

What do I need to do after the therapy?
The radioiodine you will be given will temporarily remain in your body.  A majority of the iodine not collected by the thyroid will be eliminated from your body within the first two days after your therapy.  Most of the iodine leaves your body through your urine, saliva, sweat, and feces, although you will not notice any difference.  If vomiting should occur within 24 hours of administration of the capsule please contact the nuclear medicine department.  In order to reduce the amount of radiation exposure to others guidelines will be given for you to follow several days after the treatment.  Radiation exposure to others can occur if you are close to people for an extended period of time or by contamination.  Contamination can occur when excretions from you body come into contact with others.  The increase in distance from others, good hygiene, and decrease in time spent with people will help eliminate or reduce the possibility of radiation exposure to others.

We are very concerned about any anxiety you may have about your exam. We are happy to answer any questions you may have!

If you have questions call:
641-428-7787 or
1-800-433-3883 ext. 7787