Amiodarone: a common source of iodine-induced thyrotoxicosis

Horm Res. 1987;26(1-4):158-71. doi: 10.1159/000180696.


Amiodarone, a iodine-rich drug widely used in the treatment of tachyarrhythmias, represents one of the most common sources of iodine-induced thyrotoxicosis. The data concerning 58 patients with amiodarone-iodine-induced thyrotoxicosis (AIIT) were analyzed in the present study. Prevalence of AIIT was higher in males than in females (M/F = 1.23/l). Thyrotoxicosis occurred either during treatment with or at various intervals after withdrawal of amiodarone. AIIT developed not only in patients with underlying thyroid disorders, but also in subjects with apparently normal thyroid gland. Classical symptoms of thyrotoxicosis were often lacking, the main clinical feature being a worsening of cardiac disorders. Biochemical diagnosis of AIIT was established by the finding of elevated serum total and free triiodothyronine levels, since elevated serum total and free thyroxine could be found also in euthyroid amiodarone-treated subjects. Twenty-four-hour thyroid radioiodine uptake was very low or undetectable in AIIT patients with apparently normal thyroid glands, while it was inappropriately elevated in patients with underlying thyroid disorders, despite iodine contamination. The role of autoimmune phenomena in the pathogenesis of AIIT appeared to be limited, because circulating thyroid autoantibodies were undetectable in AIIT patients without underlying thyroid disorders or with nodular goiter. Conversely, humoral features of thyroid autoimmunity were mostly found in AIIT patients with diffuse goiter. Treatment of AIIT appeared to be a difficult challenge. Among the 11 patients given no treatment, thyrotoxicosis spontaneously subsided in the 5 patients with apparently normal thyroid gland, whereas the 6 patients with nodular or diffuse goiter were still hyperthyroid 6-9 months after discontinuation of the drug. The administration of high doses (40 mg/day) of methimazole alone proved to be ineffective in most (14/16) patients given this treatment. Twenty-seven patients were treated by methimazole combined with potassium perchlorate (1 g/day). With one exception, euthyroidism was restored within 15-90 days in all cases with underlying thyroid abnormalities, and within 6-55 days in subjects with apparently normal thyroid gland. Thus, the combined treatment appears to be the most effective one, but, due to the potential toxicity of potassium perchlorate, it should be reserved to patients with severe thyrotoxicosis and should be carefully monitored.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Amiodarone / adverse effects*
  • Amiodarone / therapeutic use
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Immunoglobulins, Thyroid-Stimulating
  • Iodine / adverse effects*
  • Iodine Radioisotopes / metabolism
  • Male
  • Methimazole / therapeutic use
  • Middle Aged
  • Tachycardia / drug therapy
  • Thyroid Hormones / blood
  • Thyrotoxicosis / blood
  • Thyrotoxicosis / chemically induced*
  • Thyrotoxicosis / diagnosis
  • Thyrotoxicosis / drug therapy


  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Immunoglobulins, Thyroid-Stimulating
  • Iodine Radioisotopes
  • Thyroid Hormones
  • Methimazole
  • Iodine
  • Amiodarone