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Iodine 131 Therapy for Thyroid Cancer

Overview:

  • Radioiodine or Iodine 131 Therapy is a nuclear medicine treatment for an overactive thyroid, a condition called hyperthyroidism and may also be used to treat thyroid cancer.

 

Pre Procedure:

  • You must inform the doctor of any history of allergy or asthma and your medical history.

  • Inform your doctor if you are or could be pregnant. Radioiodine treatment should not be given during pregnancy.

  • Please carry your past scan reports / CDs.

  • This treatment is done as a day care outpatient procedure. In rare cases, a patient may need to stay overnight as a precaution.

  • This procedure does not require fasting or any diet restriction.

  • Depending on the dose (decided by the doctor), you will have to stay in the isolation room for 1 or 2 days.

  • Lactating mothers must stop breastfeeding before being treated with radioiodine. If possible, breastfeeding should be stopped 6 weeks prior to treatment. You should not resume breastfeeding after treatment.

  • In case you have infants / children, alternate childcare arrangements should be made for a week. This is because you will be radioactive post procedure and must stay away from children.  

  • You must avoid wearing any metallic ornaments / accessories on the day of procedure.

 

During Procedure:

  • You are settled comfortably in the day care isolation bed, where your privacy is respected throughout the procedure. You will be given a hospital gown to change into.

  • You will have to take off metallic ornaments, accessories and inner wear with metal wires etc.

  • Nurse and technician will give you instructions about the procedure, diet instructions etc. and then obtain a consent from you. 

  • Pre-medication will be given before the procedure in case of high dosage of radio iodine to avoid allergy or nausea during the infusion. This varies on a case to case basis, depending on the dosage.

  • The radioiodine is administered orally, post which, you will be given water to drink. You will then be radioactive (emit radiation).

  • You will be advised to have chocolate / chewing gum / lemon to avoid iodine uptake in the salivary gland / if you lose taste in the mouth.

  • Nurse and technician will step out of the room and will monitor / assist you remotely by calling you on the extension to avoid exposure to radiation.

  • Relatives / attendants will not be allowed in the isolation room. They can see you from outside the room for 2 minutes every hour. Pregnant women and children are not allowed as the radiation is harmful.

  • For any assistance you may require, you can call the nurse by dialling the extension from the telephone in the room.

  • Nurse will assist you to order food / beverages from our dietary department. There is no diet restriction. 

  • For the first 8 hours, you must drink one glass of water each hour and empty your bladder immediately. Men should see to it that there is no splashing of urine on the toilet seat while urinating. Use a tissue to wipe off any urine on the toilet bowl and flush twice as the radioiodine will be flushed out of the body through urine. Wash your hands and rinse the sink.

  • After 24 hours, radiation safety officers will visit and measure the radiation level. If the radiation level is still high, you will be advised to continue isolation. If the radiation is within the permissible limit, you will be taken for scan.

  • You must maintain a distance of at least 3 feet from all staff at all times.

  • You will be advised to take shower before scan as radioiodine will secrete from sweat glands. You will also be asked to void urine before the scan. The scan will take approximately 15 to 20 minutes. 

  • Doctor will review the scan image and explain the follow up instructions / plan for the next cycle and advise discharge.

  • Nurse will explain the discharge summary, discharge medication dosage and post procedure instructions to be followed.

 

Post Procedure:

For two days post procedure:

  • Do not share cups, glasses, plates or utensils used for eating food. Wash items promptly after using. Others may use the items after they are washed.

  • Drink lots of water for at least 48-72 hours after the isotope has been administered.

  • Flush the toilet twice and rinse the sink and tub after use.

  • Wash your towels, bed linen, undergarments and any clothing stained with urine or sweat separately. Do not share towels, linen or clothes with anyone.

For a week post procedure:

  • In case you have infants / children, alternate childcare arrangements should be made for a week. This is because you will be radioactive post procedure and must stay away from children.  

  • Stay away from pregnant / lactating women.

  • You must sleep alone for 7 days unless otherwise instructed by your doctor.

  • Maintain a distance of at least 3 feet from pregnant women and children under 18 years of age.

  • Avoid activities or places where you may be close to others for more than 5 minutes, for example, movie theatres, sporting events and public transportation.

  • You should not resume breastfeeding your child after treatment, however, you can safely breastfeed babies you may have in the future. Failure to follow this may result in permanent damage to the thyroid gland of the nursing infant or child.

  • If you are planning to conceive, you should wait at least 6 months after treatment to ensure your thyroid hormone level is normal and that you do not need additional treatment.

  • Your mouth may become dry. This is mostly in case of repeated cycles.

  • There are no dietary restrictions post the procedure and you may resume all normal activities too.

  • Please contact us in case you notice any abnormalities which is very rare in this procedure. 

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