Thyroid function after surgical treatment of thyrotoxicosis. A report of 100 cases treated with propranolol before operation

The New England Journal of Medicine
A D ToftE H Cameron


We assessed thyroid function for 12 months after subtotal thyroidectomy in 100 tyrotoxic patients treated with propranolol alone before and immediately after operation. The operation proved safe, with low morbidity. Suppression of the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis, present in the majority one month after operation, was evidenced by normal or low levels of serum total tri-iodothyronine and thyroxine, but absent or subnormal serum thyrotropin response to thyrotropin-releasing hormone. Eighty patients were euthyroid at 12 months. Three patterns of thyroid function were observed in this group between the first and 12th months: normal serum total tri-iodothyronine, thyroxine and thyrotropin levels at all stages (20 patients); normal serum total tri-iodothyronine and thyroxine, but raised thyrotropin levels on one or more occasions (40 patients); and temporary hypothyroidism (20 patients). Of the remaining 20 patients, permanent hypothyroidism developed in 14, and six relapsed. Postoperative thyroid function was related to the estimated weight of the thyroid remnant.


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