Pharmacotherapy for thyroid nodules. A systematic review and meta-analysis

Endocrinol Metab Clin North Am. 2002 Sep;31(3):699-722. doi: 10.1016/s0889-8529(02)00010-5.


The review highlights the uncertainty in the management of nodular thyroid disease. Thyroxine suppressive treatment is given in the hope that nodules might decrease in size, sometimes assuming that dependency on TSH is different in benign and malignant nodular disease. Follow-up of benign nodules over 10 years suggested that most remain the same, shrink, or disappear [14]. TSH suppression may lead to hyperthyroidism, reduced bone density [37.39], and atrial fibrilation; however, apart from reduction of nodule size or arrest in nodule growth, thyroxine therapy may benefit patients by reducing perinodular volume. Consequently, both pressure symptoms and cosmetic complaints could improve. Unfortunately, no information concerning symptoms or well-being is available from published randomized trials. In conclusion, more high quality studies of sufficient duration with adequate power estimation are needed. Uncertainty about predictors of response or the impact on outcomes that are important to patients leaves considerable doubt about the wisdom of applying suppressive therapy. Future studies shoudl include patient-important outcomes including thyroid cancer incidence, health-related quality of life and costs.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Thyroid Nodule / drug therapy*
  • Thyroxine / therapeutic use*
  • Triiodothyronine / therapeutic use*


  • Triiodothyronine
  • Thyroxine