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Cutan Ocul Toxicol. 2013 Oct;32(4):279-82. doi: 10.3109/15569527.2013.776574. Epub 2013 Mar 26.

Systemic iodine absorption associated with the use of preoperative ophthalmic antiseptics containing iodine.

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  • 1Institute of Hygiene and Environmental Medicine, University Medicine Greifswald, Ernst-Moritz-Arndt University, Germany.



Polyvinylpyrrolidone-Iodine (PVP-I) is routinely used as preoperative antiseptic during ophthalmic surgery. Iodine absorption from iodine-containing antiseptics can lead to the development of thyroid disorders. Therefore, a quantitative measurement of iodine absorption from these antiseptics was performed in patients undergoing elective cataract surgery.


This study enrolled 241 patients to evaluate systemic iodine absorption after exposure to conjunctival and/or periorbital 1.25% and 10% PVP-I compared to an iodine-free antiseptic.


All patients who received the 10% PVP-I regardless of the application site showed a 1.2-1.5-fold increase in urinary iodine excretion after 24 h (p = 0.01). In 17 out of 110 (15.5%) patients in whom 10% PVP-I was used, the critical threshold of urinary iodine excretion as defined by WHO (>300 µg/L) was exceeded. In contrast, no significant ioduria was observed with the use of 1.25% PVP-I except in patients after 48 h (p = 0.01) and with a concurrent conjunctival and periorbital application. The proportion of the excreted iodine in urine ranged from 0.24% to 1.77%. No correlation was found between the total applied concentration of iodine and the amount excreted in urine.


Based on our findings, we believe that the use of 10% PVP-I as preoperative ophthalmic antiseptic should undergo further clinical evaluation in regard to its impact on thyroid function. Conjunctival or periorbital application of 1.25% PVP-I does not result in significant ioduria.

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