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Endocr Pract. 2007 Jul-Aug;13(4):413-6.

Unusual case of amiodarone-induced thyrotoxicosis: "illicit" use of a technetium scan to diagnose a transiently toxic thyroid nodule.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Section of Endocrinology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06520-8020, USA.



To present an unusual case of amiodarone-induced thyrotoxicosis (AIT) associated with an autonomously functioning thyroid nodule, which was detected by means of a technetium scan; review the existing literature regarding the association of AIT with autonomous thyroid nodules; and explore the use of radioisotope imaging studies in patients with AIT.


We describe a 62-year-old man with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation, receiving long-term amiodarone therapy, who was referred by his cardiologist for evaluation of abnormal thyroid function tests. He was found to have an unusual case of AIT, associated with an autonomously functioning thyroid nodule.


Thyroid function studies obtained by the patient's cardiologist had shown a completely suppressed thyrotropin level and a free thyroxine level of 3.5 ng/dL. A 24-hour thyroid iodine 123 uptake and technetium Tc 99m pertechnetate scan revealed a "single, strong focus in the right thyroid lobe, with the rest of the thyroid gland...not well visualized." Thyroid ultrasonography disclosed a single, well-defined 1.5-cm solid nodule. Repeated thyroid function studies revealed a normal thyrotropin level of 2.87 micro IU/mL and a normal free thyroxine level of 2.4 ng/dL. The patient was managed conservatively with follow-up surveillance.


Prospective studies should be performed to better ascertain the value of Tc 99m thyroid scanning in determining the cause of AIT. Until such studies have been completed, we suggest that nuclear studies are unlikely to be cost-effective for assessing all patients with AIT. One logical strategy would be to gain experience with scans in only those patients with known thyroid nodules, which have been detected during physical examination or by ultrasonography. The potential clinical utility of such an approach would be of considerable interest.

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