Thyroid uptake of liquid versus capsule 131I tracers in hyperthyroid patients treated with liquid 131I

Thyroid. 1999 Apr;9(4):347-52. doi: 10.1089/thy.1999.9.347.


The amount of 131I used to treat hyperthyroid patients is based in part on the 24-hour thyroid uptake of a diagnostic amount of radioiodine (tracer). We compared the 24-hour uptake of an 131I tracer administered in liquid or capsule form to the 24-hour uptake of 131I therapy administered as liquid. Sixty-five hyperthyroid patients with Graves' disease were evaluated and subsequently treated with radioiodine. The liquid group (45 patients) received a liquid 131I tracer (1.85 MBq [0.05 mCi]) and the capsule group (20 patients) received a capsule 131I tracer (1.63 MBq [0.044 mCi]). Probe calibration factors were the same for the liquid and capsule 131I standards. All patients received therapeutic amounts of 131I [114.7-1106.3 MBq [3.1-29.9 mCi]) in liquid form. Therapy uptakes were obtained using the same collimated uptake probe modified with a calibrated lead shield to attenuate the high photon flux. The mean therapeutic uptake was the same for both groups (58%). The mean diagnostic uptake for the capsule group, however, was less than the mean diagnostic uptake for the liquid group (44% vs. 63%). The mean diagnostic uptake for the capsule group was significantly lower than the mean therapeutic uptake for this group (44% vs. 58%), whereas the mean diagnostic and therapeutic uptakes were similar for the group receiving a liquid tracer (63% vs. 58%). In conclusion, diagnostic uptakes performed with a liquid tracer more accurately predicted liquid therapy uptakes than diagnostic uptakes performed with a capsule tracer. This raises concern about the bioavailability of 131I in capsule form and has implications for determining the amount of 131I to administer for therapy. Patients whose 131I therapy was based on the uptake of a capsule tracer received a higher than intended amount of radiation to the thyroid gland.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biological Availability
  • Capsules
  • Child
  • Female
  • Graves Disease / radiotherapy*
  • Humans
  • Iodine Radioisotopes / administration & dosage*
  • Iodine Radioisotopes / pharmacokinetics*
  • Iodine Radioisotopes / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Solutions
  • Thyroid Gland / metabolism*


  • Capsules
  • Iodine Radioisotopes
  • Solutions