Drug-induced thyrotoxicosis: The surgical option

Mordechai Lorberboym*, Pinhas Schachter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Drug-induced thyrotoxicosis is not uncommon. may worsen life-threatening arrhythmias and may be refractory to medical treatment. Near-total thyroidectomy presents a valid alternative to medical therapy and should be considered early in the management of the disease. Objectives: To assess whether near-total thyroidectomy was a viable approach for our patients. Methods: Twelve patients - 7 men and 5 women, aged 63 to 82 years - presented with drug-induced fulminant thyrotoxicosis following 1 to 12 months of amiodarone treatment (11 patients, mean 7 months) and after a 6 months course of interferon-alpha treatment (one patient), Medical therapy included propylthiouracil in doses up to 1200 mg/day in all patients and a beta-receptor antagonist in seven. Five patients had to stop amiodarone treatment and start high doses of steroids. A thyroid scan was performed in all patients using 5 mCi of Tc-99m pertechnetate. The thyroid scan showed absent uptake of the tracer in the thyroid bed in all patients, precluding the use of radioablation. Results: Four patients (three with AIT and one with interferon therapy) who did not respond to 3 months of medical therapy required surgical thyroidectomy due to severe unremitting thyrotoxicosis. A near-total thyroidectomy resulted in rapid correction of thyrotoxicosis, enabling continuation of the anti-arrhythmic drug. There were no intraoperative or postoperative arrhythmias. Subsequently, all patients recovered rapidly and remained well and euthyroid on thyroxine replacement therapy. Conclusions: Since surgery results in rapid control of thyrotoxicosis and permits continued therapy with amiodarone, we suggest that near-total thyroidectomy warrants consideration as a definitive treatment for resistant amiodarone or interferon-induced thyrotoxicosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-82
Number of pages4
JournalIsrael Medical Association Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2007


  • Amiodarone
  • Interferon
  • Scan
  • Thyroidectomy
  • Thyrotoxicosis


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