Answer to Question #11954 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"

Category: Nuclear Medicine Patient Issues — Therapeutic Nuclear Medicine

The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:


I just had a total thyroidectomy last month. My postsurgery magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan is clean, except there are multiple lymph nodes in varying sizes. The doctor recommends radioiodine treatment. Is it compulsory to do it and what are the side effects? Will there be any difficulties the rest of my life due to this treatment?


Although I am not a doctor, I have 20 years of hospital experience with patients in your situation. My advice is that you absolutely should get the follow-up radioiodine treatments.

The reason you should have the treatments is because even MRI scans cannot detect the microscopic presence of cancer cells that may be in other lymph nodes and residual thyroid tissue. Radioiodine is the gold standard for treatment following thyroidectomies.

Our frequently asked questions page has good information.

And this Health Physics Society question and answer may be helpful.

I checked with a physician and she said that you should not have any long-term effects after radioiodine treatment. Some information on radioiodine treatment and side effects can be found on the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center website.

Marcia Hartman, MS

Answer posted on 17 April 2017. The information posted on this web page is intended as general reference information only. Specific facts and circumstances may affect the applicability of concepts, materials, and information described herein. The information provided is not a substitute for professional advice and should not be relied upon in the absence of such professional advice. To the best of our knowledge, answers are correct at the time they are posted. Be advised that over time, requirements could change, new data could be made available, and Internet links could change, affecting the correctness of the answers. Answers are the professional opinions of the expert responding to each question; they do not necessarily represent the position of the Health Physics Society.