Treatment of toxic solitary thyroid nodules: Surgery versus radioactive iodine

Timothy O'Brien, Hossein Gharib, Vera J. Suman, Jon A. van Heerden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Background. Because of controversy about the correct treatment of toxic solitary thyroid nodules, we reviewed our experience. Methods. We retrospectively studied 32 patients (24 women and 8 men) with solitary toxic thyroid nodules who were treated at our institution (1970 to 1985). Results. Median values were as follows: age of patients at initial treatment, 67.6 years (range, 18.9 to 86.2 years); follow-up, 3.8 years; largest diameter of nodules, 3.3 cm (range, 1.5 to 6 cm); and 131I uptake at 24 hours, 31% (range, 7% to 54%). Nine patients had surgical treatment: subtotal thyroid lobectomy in six patients and subtotal thyroidectomy in three patients. Hypothyroidism developed in two of these nine patients (22%) 9 months after operation. No surgical complications occurred. No surgically treated patient had nodule recurrence or required re-treatment. Twenty-three patients were treated with radioactive iodine (median dose, 29.1 mCi; range, 19.7 to 100 mCi). Two of them were re-treated: one patient underwent thyroid lobectomy because of concern about the nodule, and one patient was re-treated with radioactive iodine because of persistent toxicity. Hypothyroidism was detected in eight of the 23 patients (35%) treated with radioactive iodine after treatment. Of the 16 patients treated with radioactive iodine with at least 1 year follow-up and no re-treatment, nine (56.3%) have had complete regression of the nodule. Conclusions. Surgical excision of solitary toxic thyroid nodules would appear to be the treatment of choice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1166-1170
Number of pages5
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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