Medical Practice

Grades of Hypothyroidism

Br Med J 1973; 1 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.1.5854.657 (Published 17 March 1973) Cite this as: Br Med J 1973;1:657
  1. D. C. Evered,
  2. B. J. Ormston,
  3. P. A. Smith,
  4. R. Hall,
  5. T. Bird

    Abstract

    Seventy-nine patients with hypothyroidism and autoimmune thyroid disease were studied, and allotted to one of four categories on the basis of clinical and biochemical features. Firstly, patients with overt hypothyroidism had obvious clinical features of hypothyroidism and abnormal results from routine tests of thyroid function. Secondly, those with mild hypothyroidism, however, had minor and non-specific symptoms, but the routine measurements of circulating thyroid hormone concentration generally lay within the normal range, although they were significantly lower than those seen in subclinical hypothyroidism or in normal subjects. The serum concentration of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) was raised in this group and their symptoms resolve with treatment. Thirdly, patients with subclinical hypothyroidism were asymptomatic, had a raised serum TSH concentration, but all other measurements of thyroid function are indistinguishable from those recorded in people with autoimmune thyroid disease without disturbance of thyroid function and in normal subjects. Lastly, subjects with circulating thyroid antibodies, normal indices of thyroid function, and a normal serum TSH concentration were indistinguishable biochemically from normal subjects.

    Thus hypothyroidism is a graded phenomenon, the most valuable features for defining the individual grade being the clinical manifestations, the serum TSH concentration, and the presence of circulating antibodies to thyroid tissue.

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