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JOURNAL ARTICLE

Recombinant human TSH and ablation of post-surgical thyroid remnants in differentiated thyroid cancer: the effect of pre-treatment with furosemide and furosemide plus lithium

Daniele Barbaro, Mariano Grosso, Giuseppe Boni, Paola Lapi, Cristina Pasquini, Paola Orsini, Anna Turco, Giuseppe Meucci, Maria Cristina Marzola, Piero Berti, Paolo Miccoli, Giuliano Mariani, Domenico Rubello
European Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging 2010, 37 (2): 242-9
19760415

BACKGROUND AND AIM: Recombinant human TSH (rhTSH) can be used for post-surgical radioiodine (I-131) thyroid remnants ablation in differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC) patients after surgery. Debate exists in literature about the optimal amount of I-131 that should be given for obtaining an effective ablation and about the role of iodine pool during treatment. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to assess whether I-131 ablation during rhTSH stimulus can be improved by reducing the circulating iodine pool and by increasing thyroid cell uptake and retention of I-131 obtained by administering furosemide and lithium.

METHODS: A total of 201 consecutive DTC patients were entered in the study: they were treated by total thyroidectomy and I-131 therapy during rhTSH stimulus to ablate thyroid remnants. Patients were divided into two groups according to the TNM stage: group 1 included patients in stage I-II who were treated with a low 30-mCi I-131 dose, while group 2 included patients in stage III-IV who were treated by a high 100-mCi I-131 dose. Moreover, both groups were further subdivided into three subgroups. Subgroup (a) included 45 patients from group 1 and 22 from group 2: they were treated with I-131 under rhTSH stimulus, following a short 4-day withdrawal of L-thyroxine (LT4). Subgroup (b) included 45 patients from group 1 and 22 from group 2: they were treated with I-131 under rhTSH stimulus, following a short 4-day withdrawal of L-T4, and after furosemide administration (25 mg/day orally) during the 3 days before I-131. Subgroup (c) included 45 patients from group 1 and 22 from group 2: they were treated with I-131 under rhTSH stimulus, following a short 4-day L-T4 withdrawal, and after administration of furosemide (25 mg/day orally) during the 3 days prior I-131 and lithium (450 mg/day orally) during the 3 days following I-131. Another group (group 3) of 20 patients characterized by a very low-risk cancer (unifocal tumor <1.0 cm in diameter, without extra-capsular extension, N0) was treated with a 30-mCi I-131 dose under rhTSH stimulus without performing the short 4-day L-4 withdrawal: this group was taken as the control. Follow-up was performed by neck ultrasonography (US), and Tg measurement and I-131 WBS under rhTSH stimulus.

RESULTS: Among the patients from group 1, those pre-treated with furosemide or with furosemide plus lithium showed a better outcome of ablation both in terms of undetectable Tg values (97.7% and 95.5 % vs. 79.5%, p < 0.05) and of WBS negativity (97.7% vs. 81.8%, p < 0.05) during the rhTSH stimulus. No similar findings were observed in group 2 patients. Moreover, in patients from group 3 (I-131 30 mCi, without L-T4 withdrawal), the outcome of ablation was significantly lower in comparison to patients from group 1 (I-131 30 mCi, with L-T4 withdrawal) in terms of undetectable Tg during the rhTSH stimulus (55.0%, p < 0.001).

CONCLUSION: rhTSH is highly effective for post-surgical thyroid remnant ablation in low-risk cancer patients using the low 30-mCi dose protocol combined with the short 4-day withdrawal of L-T4. Moreover, in these patients the pre-treatment with furosemide seems to play an important role to further improve the outcome of ablation by reducing the iodine pool.

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