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Diagnosis and Treatment of Graves’ Disease.


DeGroot LJ.


Endotext [Internet]. South Dartmouth (MA):, Inc.; 2000-.
2016 Nov 2.

Author information

Professor of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, CA
Chief of Medicine at the University of Washington Medical Center and Professor and Vice Chair of the Department of Medicine, University of Washington
Pediatric Endocrinologist and Associate Research Physician in the Skeletal Diseases and Mineral Homeostasis Section, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, National Institutes of Health
Professor of Pediatrics and Endocrinology, Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Diabetes, First Department of Pediatrics, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens Medical School, "Aghia Sophia" Children's Hospital, Athens, Greece
Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism, Ohio State University
Professor of Endocrinology and Director of the Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism, University of Oxford, UK
Distinguished Professor of Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, CA; Associate Chief, Endocrinology and Diabetes Division and Director, Endocrine Clinic, West Los Angeles VA Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA
Professor of General Medicine-Endocrinology, First Department of Propaedeutic Internal Medicine, Laiko University Hospital, Athens, Greece
Head of the Medicover MVZ Oldenburg; affiliated with the Carl von Ossietzky University and the Technical University of Dresden
Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetology and Metabolism, University of Lausanne, Switzerland
Professor of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Centre Lead for Endocrinology and Deputy Institute Director, William Harvey Research Institute, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London, London, England
Director of Clinical Research, Hudson Institute of Medical Research; Consultant Endocrinologist, Monash Medical Centre, Melbourne, Australia
Dammert Professor of Gerontology and Director, Division of Geriatric Medicine and Director of the Division of Endocrinology, Saint Louis University Medical Center
Professor of Pediatrics, Professor of Genetics and Genomic Sciences, and Chief of the Adrenal Steroid Disorders Program, Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY
Associate Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
Professor of Medicine, Knight Cardiovascular Institute and the Division of Endocrinology, and Associate Director, Bob and Charlee Moore Institute for Nutrition and Wellness, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, OR
Professor and Chair, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine, Kalamazoo, MI
Director of the Endocrine/Bone Disease Program, John Wayne Cancer Institute at Saint John’s Health Center, Santa Monica, CA; Clinical Professor of Medicine, UCLA School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA
Director of the Diabetes Care Center and Associate Professor of Medicine, University of Washington Medical Center, Seattle, WA
Murray Waitzer Endowed Chair for Diabetes Research, Professor of Medicine/Pathology/Neurobiology, Director of Research and Neuroendocrine Unit Division of Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders, Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk, VA
Endowed Chair, Cardiovascular Health and Risk Prevention, Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes, Cook Children's Medical Center, Fort Worth, TX


Diagnosis of the classic form of Graves’ disease is easy and depends on the recognition of the cardinal features of the disease and confirmation by tests such as TSH and FTI. The differential diagnosis includes other types of thyrotoxicosis, such as that occurring in a nodular gland, accompanying certain tumors of the thyroid, or thyrotoxicosis factitia, and nontoxic goiter. Types of hypermetabolism that imitate symptoms of thyrotoxicosis must also enter the differential diagnosis. Examples are certain cases of pheochromocytoma, polycythemia, lymphoma, and the leukemias. Pulmonary disease, infection, parkinsonism, pregnancy, or nephritis may stimulate certain features of thyrotoxicosis. Treatment of Graves’ disease cannot yet be aimed at the cause because it is still unknown. One seeks to control thyrotoxicosis when that seems to be the major indication, or the ophthalmopathy when that aspect of the disease appears to be more urgent. The available forms of treatment, including surgery, drugs, and 131-I therapy, are reviewed. There is a difference of opinion as to which of these modalities is best, but to a large degree guidelines governing choice of therapy can be drawn. Antithyroid drugs are widely used for treatment on a long- term basis. About one-third of the patients undergoing long-term antithyroid therapy achieve permanent euthyroidism. Drugs are the preferred initial therapy in children and young adults. Subtotal thyroidectomy is a satisfactory form of therapy, if an excellent surgeon is available, but is less used in 2016. The combined use of antithyroid drugs and iodine makes it possible to prepare patients adequately before surgery, and operative mortality is approaching the vanishing point. Many young adults, are treated by surgery if antithyroid drug treatment fails. Currently, most endocrinologists consider RAI to be the best treatment for adults, and consider the associated hypothyroidism to be a minor problem. Evidence to date after well over five decades of experience indicates that the risk of late thyroid carcinoma must be near zero. The authors advise this therapy in most patients over age 40, and believe that it is not contraindicated above the age of about 15. Dosage is calculated on the basis of 131-I uptake and gland size. Most patients are cured by one treatment. Hypothyroidism.occurs with a fairly constant frequency for many years after therapy and may be unavoidable if cure of the disease is to be achieved by 131-I.. Many therapists accept this as an anticipated outcome of treatment. Thyrotoxicosis in children is best handled initially by antithyroid drug therapy. If this therapy does not result in a cure, surgery may be performed. Treatment with 131-I is accepted as an alternative form of treatment by some physicians, especially as age increase toward 15 years. Neonatal thyrotoxicosis is a rarity. Antithyroid drugs, propranolol and iodide may be required for several weeks until maternally-derived antibodies have been metabolized. The physician applying any of these forms of therapy to the control of thyrotoxicosis should also pay heed to the patient’s emotional needs, as well as to his or her requirements for rest, nutrition, and specific antithyroid medication. Consult our FREE web-book WWW.ENDOTEXT.ORG for complete coverage on this and related topics. We note that there are currently available 2 very extensive Guidelines on Diagnosis and Treatment of Graves’ Disease—The 2016 ATA guideline --- (270 pages), and the AACE 2011 version on Hyperthyroidism and other Causes of Thyrotoxicosis (65 pages)-- Both are well worth reviewing.

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