The administration of an estimated amount of the radioactive isotope iodine-131 as a drink in order to treat an overactive thyroid gland (see thyrotoxicosis). The iodine concentrates in the thyroid and thus delivers its beta radiation locally, with little effect on other tissues. The gland will shrink and become euthyroid over the succeeding 8–12 weeks but there is a high incidence of subsequent hypothyroidism (up to 80%), which requires lifetime treatment with thyroxine. The treatment cannot be used if there is any suspicion of pregnancy, and the patient must stay away from young children and pregnant women for around ten days after administration. Despite these drawbacks, radioactive iodine remains a popular form of treatment for any cause of hyperthyroidism.
Subjects: Medicine and Health.