Short-term hazards of low-dose radioiodine ablation therapy in postsurgical thyroid cancer patients

Clin Nucl Med. 1996 Oct;21(10):780-2. doi: 10.1097/00003072-199610000-00006.


During the last two decades, there has been a trend to use low-dose I-131 ablation therapy in patients with thyroid carcinoma without metastases. However, information regarding the incidence of acute adverse reactions in patients after low-dose radioiodine therapy has not been reported. In this study, the acute radiation effects after low-dose radioiodine ablation therapy in postsurgical differentiated thyroid cancer patients was evaluated. Fifty-six patients with differentiated thyroid cancer were prospectively evaluated. None of these patients had evidence of a distant metastasis. All patients received 40 mCi (1480 MBq) I-131 MIBG orally and were evaluated for symptoms and signs by a physician on the second and seventh days after therapy. Xerostomia and nausea were the most common complaints with the same incidence rate of 5.35%. Gastralgia occurred at a frequency of 3.57%. Pain in the thyroid bed, tenderness over a parotid gland, submandibular glands, change in taste, and vomiting all were found at a frequency of 1.78%. Maximum reactions generally occurred 24-48 hours after therapy. All the symptoms except for xerostomia resolved completely in most patients within a week. In comparison with high-dose ablation therapy published in the literature, the incidence of radiation reactions in low-dose radioiodine therapy was much lower. It was concluded that in patients without lymph node or distant metastases, low-dose I-131 MIBG therapy may be recommended to avoid the high incidence of local complications after high-dose treatment.

MeSH terms

  • 3-Iodobenzylguanidine
  • Adenocarcinoma, Follicular / diagnostic imaging
  • Adenocarcinoma, Follicular / surgery
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma, Papillary / diagnostic imaging
  • Carcinoma, Papillary / surgery
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iodine Radioisotopes / administration & dosage*
  • Iodine Radioisotopes / adverse effects*
  • Iodobenzenes / administration & dosage*
  • Iodobenzenes / adverse effects*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nausea / etiology
  • Pain / etiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Radiotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / surgery
  • Xerostomia / etiology


  • Iodine Radioisotopes
  • Iodobenzenes
  • 3-Iodobenzylguanidine