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Radioiodine therapy versus antithyroid drugs in Graves' disease: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.

OBJECTIVE:: This meta-analysis was performed to compare radioiodine therapy with antithyroid drugs in terms of clinical outcomes, including development or worsening of ophthalmopathy, hyperthyroid cure rate, hypothyroidism, relapse rate and adverse events.

METHODS:: Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) published in PubMed, Embase, Web of Science, SinoMed and National Knowledge Infrastructure, China, were systematically reviewed to compare the effects of radioiodine therapy with antithyroid drugs in patients with Graves' disease. Results were expressed as risk ratio with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) and weighted mean differences with 95% CIs. Pooled estimates were performed using a fixed-effects model or random-effects model, depending on the heterogeneity among studies.

RESULTS:: 17 RCTs involving 4024 patients met the inclusion criteria and were included. Results showed that radioiodine treatment has increased risk in new ophthalmopathy, development or worsening of ophthalmopathy and hypothyroidism. Whereas, compared with antithyroid drugs, radioiodine treatment seems to have a higher hyperthyroid cure rate, lower recurrence rate and lower incidence of adverse events.

CONCLUSION:: Radioiodine therapy is associated with a higher hyperthyroid cure rate and lower relapse rate compared with antithyroid drugs. However, it also increases the risk of ophthalmopathy and hypothyroidism.

ADVANCES IN KNOWLEDGE:: Considering that antithyroid drug treatment can be associated with unsatisfactory control of hyperthyroidism, we would recommend radioiodine therapy as the treatment of choice for patients with Graves' disease.

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