The role of iodine in the diagnosis of thyroid pathologies

The thyroid gland is one of the active regulators of the metabolic processes of the body. In the presence of failures in its work, both towards hyperfunction and suppression of activity, the metabolism suffers greatly, the work of internal organs and the reaction of the nervous system change. In this regard, it is important to timely detect even the slightest deviations in the work of the body and their correction. For the diagnosis, a number of laboratory blood tests are used, as well as methods for determining the activity of an organ by measuring body temperature (thermometry) or absorption of radioactive iodine. Let’s talk more about diagnostic procedures.

Radioactive iodine: degree of absorption by iron

The fact of active absorption by the thyroid gland of iodine necessary for its direct work is known, which is then incorporated into the hormones produced by the body. A study of the gland’s function is based on this property – using a special scanner device, the degree of tissue uptake of radioactive iodine (I131) is studied. If the thyroid gland fully and normally functions, labeled iodine is absorbed in the range from 6 to 18% after 2 hours of study, by the fourth hour of the procedure, capture reaches 24%, and at the end of the day – no more than 40%.  

If there is a suppression of the organ for various reasons, then the uptake of iodine by the tissues will also be proportionally reduced. However, before the study, you need to conduct a thorough conversation with the patient and find out if there were any recent medications containing bromine or iodine, as well as the use of iodine nets or the treatment of wounds with alcoholic iodine tincture. The reliability of the method will be highest one month after discontinuation of drugs.

Thyroid scintigraphy technique

This is a scan of the tissues of the thyroid gland with a special device after the introduction of labeled drugs into the body – iodine or technetium. These substances are equally capable of accumulating in the tissues of the organ, they are usually administered intravenously, immediately before the examination, and then a series of images are taken or the organ is examined in real time. Due to this, it is determined how large the thyroid gland is, as well as how functionally active it is. Those zones or nodes that are not functionally active are called “cold” ones; they look like sharp strokes of the drug’s glow on the scanner screen. If there are functionally active nodes – “hot” zones, they look like bright spots on the screen. In places of low activity, the drug accumulates poorly, and in areas where the thyroid gland works excessively, areas of dense coloring are formed. The informational content of the method is high with a relatively low dose and high safety.  

Changes in body temperature and its registration

The property of the thyroid gland to sharply change the temperature in the region of functionally active regions is also known. This feature is used by doctors in diagnostics, using infrared scanners that record temperature changes within the tenths of a degree. This method allows you to identify malignant glandular nodes even more reliably than scintigraphy. Oncological cells have a more intense metabolism, due to which their temperature is much higher than the rest of the area. Therefore, on the obtained thermograms of the gland, zones where the temperature of the tissues is sharply increased in comparison with those around them will be clearly visible – there a dangerous knot will be suspected.

Metabolism and its assessment

The role of the gland in the regulation of metabolism is great. This is especially noticeable in relation to the main metabolism, the level of energy needed by the body in order to maintain normal life activity against the background of fasting for 12 hours. Metabolic changes are determined by fixing the body’s consumption of oxygen and carbon dioxide emissions in a certain time period. Based on the data obtained, energy costs are calculated in kilocalories per day. Today, this study is carried out using computerized devices – “metabolimeters”, taking into account the correction for age and gender characteristics, body length and patient weight. According to the data obtained by the devices, it is determined how much changes in the thyroid gland affect the metabolism and in which direction correction should be carried out.

Blood tests: biochemistry, cholesterol

A large amount of data on the functional activity of the gland can give blood, which is examined for a number of indicators. First of all, you need to study the work of the liver by the level of its enzymes and bilirubin, as well as the protein profile of the blood, the level of creatinine and urea. This allows you to identify changes in the functioning of internal organs, provoked by a change in the thyroid gland. In addition, blood is studied to determine the level of cholesterol in it, which is especially indicative of children and young people. Also required are studies of the hormonal profile of the thyroid gland and pituitary tropic hormones that regulate the functioning of the organ, special carrier proteins and enzymes necessary for the active synthesis of gland hormones. 

Additional activities

If it is necessary to identify structural changes, an organ ultrasound is used to determine all the main characteristics – sizes, density and presence of nodes, cystic cavities. In some cases, an X-ray examination will also be shown, especially if there is a suspicion of an atypical location of the organ (sternal goiter). In complex cases and in the differential diagnosis of formations in organ tissue, computed tomography techniques and MRI scans are used, which can accurately identify the contours and structure of the organ, as well as determine the origin of the nodes and their sizes.

According to the testimony and after carrying out all the necessary preliminary studies, a puncture biopsy is prescribed. It is necessary for taking tissues from a suspicious gland formation (cyst, nodule, area of ​​increased density). The material obtained with this is carefully studied in the laboratory with a conclusion on the structure of the tissues of the affected area. Only the results of all studies are diagnosed and treatment tactics developed.

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