[Thyroid hormone treatment]

R Gärtner
Deutsche Medizinische Wochenschrift 2013, 138 (27): 1413-20; quiz 1421-4
The autoimmune thyroiditis with overt or subclinical primary hypothyroidism is the most common endocrine disease. Although the diagnosis of hypothyroidism is not difficult, the question when a replacement therapy in subclinical hypothyroidism should be initiated is still under discussion. In patients with overt hypothyroidism defined as low FT4 and elevated TSH or TSH > 10 mU/L a replacement with levothyroxine is clearly indicated. In patients with subclinical hypothyroidism defined as a TSH between 4 and 10 mU/L and normal FT4, the treatment with Levothyroxine depends on the underlying disease and symptoms. Levothyroxine is a prohormone with is activated by deiodination in the organs to triiodothyronine. Therefore, levothyroxine for replacement therapy is mainly used. Some patients, however, do not feel well with this treatment and therefore studies with a combination therapy of levothyroxine and triiodothyronine had been performed and it could be shown that this might be related to a polymorphism in type 2 deiodinase in some patients, with the consequence of lower intracellular triodothyronine formation. In women on levothyroxine replacement therapy getting pregnant, the demand of levothyroxine increases up to 25-50 µg, especially in the early weeks of pregnancy. It also has to be considered that the resorption of levothyroxine depends on normal stomach acid and therefore patients on acid blockers or atrophic gastritis require higher dosages of levothyroxine. Only patients after thyroidectomy because of differentiated thyroid carcinoma with higher grad of malignancy need a TSH suppressive therapy, those with occult papillary thyroid carcinoma the TSH should be within the low normal range.

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