Objective: This study determined the cost effectiveness of treating thyrotoxicosis using thionamide therapy, radioiodine or surgery in the United Kingdom.
Design: One hundred thirty-five patients diagnosed with thyrotoxicosis (62% Graves' disease, 7% nodular disease, 5% thyroiditis, and 27% unknown aetiology) referred in 12 months were offered a fully informed choice of treatment modality. Thirteen patients with transient thyrotoxicosis were subsequently excluded from the analysis. Seventy-four patients (61%) received an 18-month course of thionamide therapy, 43 received radioiodine therapy (35%), and 5 had a thyroidectomy (4%) within the first year of diagnosis as their primary treatment. A successful outcome ("cure") was defined as euthyroidism 12 months after thionamide therapy or euthyroidism or hypothyroidism on thyroxine replacement at 24 months following radioiodine or thyroidectomy. Costs were calculated for outpatient attendances, laboratory tests, and initial and subsequent treatments.
Main outcome: In the thionamide group 73% were "cured" at 30 months after initiating treatment compared to 95% in the radioiodine group and 100% treated by thyroidectomy at 24 months. Cost per "cure" was calculated to be 3,763 pounds (5,644 dollars) per patient who received thionamides, 1,375 pounds (2,063 dollars) per patient given radioiodine and 6,551 pounds (9,826 dollars) per patient who underwent thyroidectomy.
Conclusion: The most cost-effective primary treatment modality for thyrotoxicosis is radioiodine.