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Recombinant human TSH and radioactive iodine therapy in the management of benign multinodular goiter.

Multinodular goiter (MNG) is a very common thyroid disorder determined by diverse goitrogenic factors, the most important one being iodine deficiency. The clinical presentation of a patient with MNG varies from a completely asymptomatic goiter to a life-threatening disease due to upper airway compression. Patients can develop underlying subclinical or overt hyperthyroidism due to autonomously hyperfunctioning nodules. In the absence of clinical, ultrasonographic, or cytological findings suggestive of malignancy, the best therapeutic approach for a patient with MNG will depend on the size and location of the goiter, the presence and severity of compressive symptoms, and the presence or absence of thyrotoxicosis. There is still no consensus regarding the treatment of atoxic MNGs. Hence, its optimal management remains controversial; possible therapies include levothyroxine (lT4), surgery, and radioactive iodine ((131)I). Suppressive treatment with lT4 is discouraged due to the development of sub-clinical or overt hyperthyroidism and to its low efficacy when compared with surgery or (131)I. Total thyroidectomy is effective; however, it is associated with the risk of surgical complications and is often refused by the patient. (131)I therapy is an alternative to thyroid surgery to reduce the size of benign MNGs. Based on the ability of recombinant human TSH (rhTSH) to more than double thyroid (131)I uptake, this compound has been evaluated as an adjuvant to (131)I in the treatment of MNG. Very small doses of rhTSH have been used in patients with MNG and few safety concerns have been observed, but the ideal dose, both effective and safe, is yet to be defined.

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