Iodine 131 Thyroid Ablation Therapy

Radioactive iodine ablation is the most common treatment for hyperthyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid produces too much thyroid hormone. It involves taking a pill or liquid dose of radioactive iodine. This treatment destroys the thyroid cells that are making too much hormone. Radioiodine ablation may result in the need for daily thyroid hormone pills.

If you and your doctor choose radioactive iodine ablation, you’ll take an iodine pill called Iodine-131 (I131). The goal is to destroy just enough thyroid tissue so that, over time, your thyroid will produce the correct amount of thyroid hormone.

Iodine ablation is a very safe treatment. Your health care provider will talk with you about any risks and possible complications. You will likely receive the iodine at the hospital and go home the same day. The risk from the radiation to yourself and others is very small. However, you may need to stay away from other people for several days. It is most important to avoid children and pregnant women during this time.

Once in a while, not enough thyroid tissue is damaged during the first treatment, and a second treatment is needed. If too much thyroid tissue is destroyed, your doctor will prescribe a manmade version of the thyroid hormone called levothyroxine.