Radioiodine therapy

At radioiodine therapy radioactive iodine (radioiodine) is used for treatment. Radioiodine therapy is used for the treatment of Graves’ disease, hot nodules and thyroid cancer. Preparation for radioiodine therapy is performed in our clinic on an outpatient basis. In general, admission to our nuclear medical ward for 4-5 days is required for radioiodine therapy.

When is radioiodine therapy performed?

Radioiodine therapy is performed for various diseases of the thyroid gland:

  • In Graves’ disease (hyperthyroidism) to eliminate the thyroid gland.
  • In the case of autonomy (hyperfunction) to eliminate the autonomic nodes.
  • In the case of thyroid carcinoma, to remove residual thyroid tissue.
  • In the case of goiter (goiter) to reduce the size of the thyroid gland.

How does radioiodine therapy work?

Radioiodine therapy is a nuclear medicine treatment. You will receive a capsule with radioactive iodine from us to swallow. The capsule dissolves immediately in the stomach. The released iodine follows the natural metabolism and is absorbed in the thyroid gland. The thyroid cells are selectively degraded by the action of the radioiodine. Over time, the radioactivity subsides. Some of the radioactivity is excreted in the urine, stool and saliva.

How do you prepare? What can you bring to radioiodine therapy?

Radioiodine therapy often requires medication adjustment or even discontinuation of thyroid medications. Your doctors will inform you about this. Radioiodine therapy takes different amounts of time depending on the underlying disease of the thyroid gland. Your doctors will inform you about the duration of your treatment. Please bring all medications with you. For radiation protection reasons, no visitors are allowed during radioiodine therapy. You can move freely in the patient room. Please bring light clothing to feel comfortable in, such as a tracksuit. You are allowed to bring personal belongings into the patient’s room. Your clothing and personal belongings will not be irradiated. Note, however, that these may be contaminated by excretions of radioactivity in urine, stool, and saliva. Please limit yourself to hand luggage and wash your clothes after radioiodine therapy in the washing machine with the usual programs. Note that personal items may also be contaminated by radioactive traces. Your personal belongings will be checked for radioactive contamination (contamination) and cleaned if necessary before you are discharged.

What are the side effects? What can you do about it?

Some of the radioiodine is absorbed in the salivary glands. In order for the salivary glands to empty the radioiodine, we will provide you with either chewing gum to suck on, pieces of lemon to suck out, or licorice to suck on. The doctors will inform you about it in more detail. The salivary flow empties the radioiodine from the salivary glands. This prevents dry mouth, which can occur with repeated high-dose radioiodine therapies. Please take good care of your teeth during radioiodine therapy. If possible, dentures or splints should not be worn during radioiodine therapy. Please place your toothbrush in the waste bag in the bathroom before discharge. Occasionally, mild sore throat or mild throat swelling may occur. Please check in with the nursing staff. We will provide you with ice for cooling and sucking. Thus, the discomfort usually subsides after a few hours. During the radioiodine therapy patients should not be pregnant. After the radioiodine therapy, patients should use contraception for 6 months. Everything else is allowed. A desired effect of radioiodine therapy is the elimination of the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland produces important hormones. Doctors will prescribe thyroid hormones as tablets depending on their lab results. You may need them for life.

Responsible doctors

Ivette Engel-Bicik, Dr. med.

Attending Physician with extended responsibilites, Department of Nuclear Medicine

Tel. +41 44 255 35 55
Specialties: Thyroid diseases incl. Therapy, Radionuclide therapies (SIRT, PRRT, Xofigo)

Roger Schneiter, Dr. med.

Attending Physician with extended responsibilites, Department of Nuclear Medicine
Attending Physician with extended responsibilites, Department of Endocrinology, Diabetology and Clinical Nutrition

Tel. +41 44 255 36 20
Specialties: Andrology, Thyroid/parathyroid gland, Pituitary gland

For patients

As a patient, you cannot register directly for a consultation. Please get a referral from your primary care physician, specialist. For questions please use our contact form.

Tel. +41 44 255 12 82
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Simply assign your patient via registration form.

Tel. +41 44 255 35 55

Hotline medical information: 08.00-18.00: +41 44 255 15 04

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Responsible Department