Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Does prophylactic thyroxine treatment after operation for non-toxic goitre influence thyroid size?

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987; 294 doi: (Published 28 March 1987) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987;294:801
  1. L Hegedüs,
  2. J M Hansen,
  3. D Veiergang,
  4. S Karstrup


    In order to evaluate the influence of thyroxine treatment on thyroid volume after thyroidectomy for non-toxic goitre 110 consecutive patients were randomised to receive thyroxine (150 micrograms daily) or no treatment three months after operation. Thyroid volume determined by ultrasonography did not differ significantly between the two groups one year after operation. Nevertheless, a similar decrease in volume was seen from three to 12 months postoperatively in the thyroxine treated and no treatment groups (median 18 (range 8-70) ml to 16 (range 7-57) ml, and median 20 (range 9-72) ml to 17 (range 8-58) ml, respectively). Three patients (two given thyroxine) had recurrence of goitre within the observation period of one year. In this series thyroid volume decreased during the first postoperative year independently of thyroxine treatment. Hence it seems questionable whether postoperative thyroid function studies can identify patients at risk of recurrence of goitre after operation for non-toxic goitre and whether routine postoperative treatment with thyroxine is justifiable.