What is radioiodine?
Iodine is the natural substance used by the thyroid gland to produce its hormones. Radioactive Iodine is taken up by the thyroid gland in a similar way as that of the natural Iodine.
It is used to assess the functional status of the thyroid gland (RadioIodine scan) as well as for the treatment of overactive thyroid gland and thyroid cancer
Radio Iodine treatment – What is it?
Radio Iodine treatment is used to treat overactive thyroid gland. This destroys the thyroid cell, which are functioning more. A single dose of radioactive iodine is given as a pill or as a tasteless liquid.
RAI is about 90% effective in curing the condition. For the additional 10%, a second or third dose is needed.
What happens to the radioiodine?
Most of the radioiodine is taken up by the thyroid gland. The remaining is excreted from the body through urine mainly and also through sweat, saliva and faeces.
Radioactive Iodine procedure
The procedure will take place in a clinic or hospital setting, the centre needs a specific license to use RAI. You will ingest the radioactive iodine in either liquid form or as a capsule. You will need to drink liquids to flush the radioactive iodine out of your system.
Once your radioactive levels have fallen you will have a scan to determine where in your body the radioactivity has been absorbed.
After the Radioactive iodine procedure once your levels of radioactivity have fallen to a safe level you will be sent home with postcare instructions. You will need to avoid contact with small children, pregnant or breast feeding women for a period of time. You will be told when you should begin taking your thyroid hormones and when to follow up with your doctor.
Are there any side effects of RAI treatment?
Short-term side effects may include nausea and vomiting soon after treatment, which usually only lasts for a day or two.
In addition, some of the RAI may be picked up by the salivary glands around the jaws and under the tongue, causing painful swelling and enlargement of these glands. T
his is treated by drinking plenty of fluids, sucking on lozenges (in order to stimulate the flow of saliva) and occasionally painkiller medicines like paracetamol.
Long-term side effects: In the long run, the thyroid gland can become less functional than normal (hypothyroid) and Thyroid supplementation might be required.
What if I am pregnant or breast-feeding?
You should not be taking Radioiodine treatment if you are pregnant or breastfeeding as the medicine can pass through the placenta or can be secreted in the breast milk and can affect your baby’s thyroid gland making the child’s thyroid less active.
My child is small, can I take the treatment?
It is advisable that you don’t stay in the same roof as your child for at least 10 days, if your child is less than 10 years old.
Will it make me infertile?
No, certainly not.
Can it cause cancer?
Radioiodine has successfully been used for more than 50 years. It has not been related to cancer in any organ.
Radioiodine therapy is also given for Thyroid cancer
It is used to treat follicular and papillary thyroid cancer. Here the dose is much more than in Hyperthyroidism, this is why isolation and hospital stay is needed for this treatment. Indications of Radioactive iodine therapy in cases of thyroid cancer
- After thyroidectomy to remove the thyroid gland, to destroy any cancer cells that remain.
- In the treatment of thyroid cancer that has spread.
- In the treatment of recurring thyroid cancer.