Radiation dose to the testes after 131I therapy for ablation of postsurgical thyroid remnants in patients with differentiated thyroid cancer

J Nucl Med. 1999 Oct;40(10):1716-21.


Radioiodine-131 is used in differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC) for ablation of postsurgical thyroid remnants and destruction of metastases. The question may be raised of whether 131I treatment of DTC in male patients may give an irradiation dose to the testes that could impair fertility. Few data in the literature concern the dose absorbed by the testes after 1311 therapy for DTC. Because 131I kinetics may be altered by the hypothyroid condition commonly present at the time of treatment and by the radioiodinated iodoproteins released by the damaged thyroid tissue, the dose values reported in the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) tables for euthyroid men may not be appropriate. To clarify this problem, three male subjects undergoing 131I therapy for ablation of thyroid remnants shortly after thyroidectomy for DTC were studied.

Methods: The mean administered activity was 1256 MBq, and the duration of the study was 2 wk. The gamma dose was measured by thermoluminescent dosimeters (TLDs) applied to the lower poles of the testes. Correction factors were calculated for the distance of the TLD from the center of the testes and for attenuation by the testes of the gamma rays reaching the TLD. After correction, the gamma dose to the testes ranged from 21 to 29 mGy. The gamma dose calculated by the Medical Internal Radiation Dose (MIRD) method from blood and urine samples was similar (18-20 mGy) to that measured by TLDs. The beta dose was estimated by the MIRD method from blood activity and testicular volume and ranged between 14 and 31 mGy.

Results: The total (beta and gamma) doses to testes were 30, 33 and 43 microGy/MBq in the three subjects.

Conclusion: These values are close to those derived from the ICRP tables (26-37 microGy/MBq 131I) for euthyroid subjects. The present data indicate that significant irradiation is delivered to the testes after the administration of the 131I ablative dose to thyroidectomized patients. The relevance of the radiation absorbed by testes on fertility remains to be established.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Fertility / radiation effects
  • Humans
  • Iodine Radioisotopes / blood
  • Iodine Radioisotopes / therapeutic use*
  • Iodine Radioisotopes / urine
  • Iodoproteins / blood
  • Male
  • Neoplasm, Residual
  • Radiotherapy Dosage
  • Testis / radiation effects*
  • Thermoluminescent Dosimetry
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / blood
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / surgery
  • Thyroidectomy
  • Time Factors


  • Iodine Radioisotopes
  • Iodoproteins