Background: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the utility of posttreatment total body iodine-131 (I-131) scans.
Methods: The records of 63 consecutive patients with thyroid carcinoma treated with surgery and postoperative I-131 were reviewed. Patients underwent a postoperative diagnostic total body I-131 scan. Subsequently, patients received therapeutic administration of I-131. Posttreatment total body I-131 scans were performed.
Results: The postoperative diagnostic total body I-131 scans revealed uptake in the neck in all 63 patients and also demonstrated lung and mediastinal uptake in 7 patients with known sites of metastatic disease. The posttreatment total body I-131 scans also revealed neck uptake in all patients and demonstrated uptake in the lung and mediastinum in those with known metastasis to those sites. Additional foci of neck uptake were revealed on the posttreatment total body I-131 scans in six patients. Stepwise logistic regression was performed to identify prognostic factors predictive of additional foci of uptake on the posttreatment total body I-131 scans compared with the pretreatment diagnostic total body I-131 scans. Variables found to correlate significantly with additional uptake on the posttreatment total body I-131 scans were tumor size > or = 2 cm, follicular histology, and multifocal disease.
Conclusions: Posttreatment total body I-131 scans yielded additional information in only 10% (6 of 63) of the study patient population treated with postoperative I-131 for thyroid carcinoma. Therefore, the cost, and the associated inconvenience to the patient, of performing a posttreatment total body I-131 scan can be eliminated for most patients.