Objective: In patients treated for hypothyroidism, the usual practice is to monitor thyroid-stimulating hormone values yearly once a therapeutic dosage of levothyroxine is determined. This study investigates whether there are any clinical predictors that could identify a subset of patients who might be monitored safely on a less frequent basis.
Methods: With the use of a retrospective study design, 715 patients treated for hypothyroidism who had a normal (ie, therapeutic) thyroid-stimulating hormone value in 2006 while taking levothyroxine were identified. All thyroid-stimulating hormone values were then obtained through December 31, 2012. By using a Cox proportional hazard model, gender, age, body mass index, history of chronic autoimmune thyroiditis, initial thyroid-stimulating hormone level, and levothyroxine dose were analyzed for time to first abnormal thyroid-stimulating hormone value.
Results: Age, gender, history of chronic autoimmune thyroiditis, and body mass index at the time of initial normal thyroid-stimulating hormone were not associated significantly with time to abnormal thyroid-stimulating hormone value. Levothyroxine dose >125 μg/day had an increased hazard ratio of 2.4 (95% confidence interval, 1.7-3.4; P < .0001) for time to first follow-up abnormal thyroid-stimulating hormone value, but dosages less than that did not increase the hazard ratio. One year after the initial normal thyroid-stimulating hormone value, 91.1% of patients taking ≤ 125 μg/day had a continued normal thyroid-stimulating hormone, whereas only 73.3% of patients taking >125 μg/day did. Transformed thyroid-stimulating hormone value (which represents a measure of how far the initial thyroid-stimulating hormone was from the midpoint of the normal range) also had an increased hazard ratio of 1.14 (95% confidence interval, 1.1-1.2; P < .0001) for time to first abnormal thyroid-stimulating hormone value.
Conclusions: For patients receiving ≤ 125 μg/day of levothyroxine, we propose that a testing interval up to 2 years may be acceptable if their thyroid-stimulating hormone is well within the normal range.
Keywords: Hypothyroidism; Hypothyroidism treatment; Levothyroxine dosage; Thyroid-stimulating hormone.
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