Iodine-131 for therapy of thyroid diseases. Physical and biological basis

Nucl Med Rev Cent East Eur. 2012 Aug 28;15(2):120-3.


Iodine-131 is successfully used in the treatment of hyperthyroidism and differentiated thyroid cancer. Thyroid is the critical organ for iodine. Iodine is taken up by the thyroid follicular cells. Radioactive isotope iodine-131 simultaneously emits two types of radiation: radiation beta minus (β-) used for the treatment and gamma (γ) used for diagnosis. Due to the penetration of beta particles in tissue, damaging effect of β-radiation is restricted to thyroid cells. In this article, characteristic of iodine-131, mechanism of action and mechanism of tissue damage is presented. HIGH energy γ-ray emission, contributes to the dose of both: patient's body and the personnel. In accordance with the principles of radiation protection, reducing exposure to ionizing radiation should be achieved by: use of proper shieldings, organization of work, appropriate distance from the radiation source and reducing the time of exposure. Treatment with I-131, depending on medical indications, may be carried out on stationary or outpatient basis. All activities conducted in the exposure to radiation must comply with the principles of radiation protection, in accordance with the applicable regulations, that are also presented in this article.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Iodine Radioisotopes / adverse effects
  • Iodine Radioisotopes / therapeutic use
  • Physical Phenomena*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Radiobiology / methods*
  • Safety
  • Thyroid Diseases / radiotherapy*


  • Iodine Radioisotopes