Radioactive Iodine has been used since the 1950’s to treat an overactive thyroid (benign thyroid disease eg Graves’ disease and multinodular goiter). During the years it has proven to be a safe and effective way of treating an overactive thyroid. Multiple studies have been conducted and it has been proven that the treatment itself does not cause an increased risk for developing thyroid cancer later in your life.
I have read on the internet that I must stay in hospital after the treatment: Is this true?
No, this is not true. We are treating you with a small enough dose so that you can safely go home after the therapy. You may have read on the internet (or elsewhere) that you need to be isolated after treatment; however this is after treatment for thyroid cancer, where they also use radioactive iodine. Therapy for thyroid cancer requires a dose of radioactivity 10-20 times the dose that we will administer for your thyroid disease. We do however ask that you refrain from spending too much time with children or pregnant people for the first 5-7 days. It is also advisable that you sleep in a separate bed for the first week, flush the toilet twice after urinating and wash the cutlery you have eaten with seperately as the radioactivity does get excreted in your saliva and other bodily fluids.
Will I ever be able to get pregnant again?
Yes! If there are no other reasons that you cannot fall pregnant, you will be able to get pregnant after radioactive iodine. You should however NOT get pregnant within the first 6 months of receiving radioactive Iodine as it crosses the placenta and can cause thyroid abnormalities in your unborn child. Men should not conceive a child within the first 2 months after radioactive iodine. We will do a pregnancy test on all women of child-bearing age before we administer the capsule and strongly recommend that you go on contraception for the first 6 months if you are sexually active.
How often do I have to repeat the radioactive Iodine dose?
One capsule is usually enough to treat the overactive thyroid; however in some cases repeated doses must be given – this is also proven to be safe. It is well-known that a multinodular thyroid is often more resistant to treatment that Graves’ disease and if you have a multinodular goiter, your chances are higher that you might need a repeat dose. You will be seen by your referring physician 6 weeks after the therapy to evaluate your thyroid functions. He/she will then decide on further management.
Radioactive Iodine: Information for patients brochures (afrikaans and english)