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Mitsuru Ito, Akira Miyauchi, Shinji Morita, Takumi Kudo, Eijun Nishihara, Minoru Kihara, Yuuki Takamura, Yasuhiro Ito, Kaoru Kobayashi, Akihiro Miya, Sumihisa Kubota, and Nobuyuki Amino

Objective

Thyroidal production of triiodothyronine (T3) is absent in patients who have undergone total thyroidectomy. Therefore, relative T3 deficiency may occur during postoperative levothyroxine (l-T4) therapy. The objective of this study was to evaluate how the individual serum T3 level changes between preoperative native thyroid function and postoperative l-T4 therapy.

Methods

We retrospectively studied 135 consecutive patients with papillary thyroid carcinoma, who underwent total thyroidectomy. Serum free T4 (FT4), free T3 (FT3), and TSH levels measured preoperatively were compared with those levels measured on postoperative l-T4 therapy.

Results

Serum TSH levels during postoperative l-T4 therapy were significantly decreased compared with native TSH levels (P<0.001). Serum FT4 levels were significantly increased (P<0.001). Serum FT3 levels were significantly decreased (P=0.029). We divided the patients into four groups according to postoperative serum TSH levels: strongly suppressed (less than one-tenth of the lower limit); moderately suppressed (between one-tenth of the lower limit and the lower limit); normal limit; and more than upper limit. Patients with strongly suppressed TSH levels had serum FT3 levels significantly higher than the native levels (P<0.001). Patients with moderately suppressed TSH levels had serum FT3 levels equivalent to the native levels (P=0.51), and patients with normal TSH levels had significantly lower serum FT3 levels (P<0.001).

Conclusions

Serum FT3 levels during postoperative l-T4 therapy were equivalent to the preoperative levels in patients with moderately suppressed TSH levels. Our study indicated that a moderately TSH-suppressive dose of l-T4 is required to achieve the preoperative native serum T3 levels in postoperative l-T4 therapy.

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Mitsuru Ito, Akira Miyauchi, Shino Kang, Mako Hisakado, Waka Yoshioka, Akane Ide, Takumi Kudo, Eijun Nishihara, Minoru Kihara, Yasuhiro Ito, Kaoru Kobayashi, Akihiro Miya, Shuji Fukata, Hirotoshi Nakamura, and Nobuyuki Amino

Objective

We and others recently reported that in total thyroidectomy (TT), serum triiodothyronine (T3) levels during levothyroxine (l-T4) therapy were low compared to the preoperative levels, suggesting that the presence of the thyroid tissue affects the balances of serum thyroid hormone levels. However, the effects of remnant thyroid tissue on these balances in thyroidectomized patients have not been established.

Methods

We retrospectively studied 253 euthyroid patients with papillary thyroid carcinoma who underwent a TT or hemithyroidectomy (HT). We divided the cases into the TT+supplemental l-T4 (+l-T4) group (n=103); the HT+l-T4 group (n=56); and the HT-alone group (n=94). We compared the postoperative serum levels of free T4 (FT4) and free T3 (FT3) and the FT3/FT4 ratio in individual patients with those of controls matched by serum TSH levels.

Results

The TT+l-T4 group had significantly higher FT4 (P<0.001), lower FT3 (P<0.01) and lower FT3/FT4 (P<0.001) levels compared to the controls. The HT+l-T4 group had FT4, FT3 and FT3/FT4 levels equivalent to those of the controls. The HT-alone group had significantly lower FT4 (P<0.01), equivalent FT3 (P=0.083), and significantly higher FT3/FT4 (P<0.001) ratios than the controls.

Conclusions

The presence of the remnant thyroid tissue was associated with different thyroid hormone balances in thyroidectomized patients, suggesting that T3 production by remnant thyroid tissue has a substantial effect on the maintenance of postoperative serum T3 levels.