Research Article

Ophthalmic Graves's disease: natural history and detailed thyroid function studies.

Br Med J 1977; 1 doi: (Published 29 January 1977) Cite this as: Br Med J 1977;1:273
  1. C S Teng,
  2. P P Yeo


    Of 27 patients with ophthalmic Graves's disease (OGD) who had been clinically euthyroid three years previously, one became clinically hyperthyroid and seven overtly hypothyroid. Improvement in eye signs was associated with a return to normal of thyroidal suppression by triiodothyronine (T3) and of the response of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) to thyrotrophin-releasing hormone (TRH). Of a further 30 patients with OGD who had not been studied previously, three were overtly hypothyroid. Of the combined series, 46 patients were euthyroid, 18 (40%) of whom had an impaired or absent TSH response to TRH, and 3(6-7%) an exaggerated response. Eleven out of 37 patients (29-7%) had abnormal results in the T3 suppression test. There was a significant correlation between thyroidal suppression by T3 and the TSH response to TRH. Total serum concentrations of both T3 and thyroxine (T4) were closely correlated with T3 suppressibility and TRH responsiveness. Free T4 and T3 (fT3) concentrations were normal in all but three patients, in whom raised fT3 was accompanied by abnormal TSH responses and thyroidal suppression. The presence of normal free thyroid hormone concentrations in patients with impaired or absent TSH responses to TRH is interesting and challenges the concept that free thyroid hormones are the major controlling factors in the feedback control of TSH.