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Thyroid Ablation


Thyroid ablation is a procedure to decrease the function of some or all of your thyroid gland. Your thyroid makes hormones that help control your body temperature, heart rate, and growth. The hormones also control how fast your body uses food for energy.

Thyroid and Parathyroid Glands


Before your procedure:

  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.
  • Blood and urine tests may be done to check your thyroid function and to check for pregnancy.
  • Change the amount of iodine you eat. You may need to decrease or stop eating foods that contain iodine. Ask for a list of foods that contain iodine.
  • Ask about any medicines you need to stop taking before your procedure. This includes medicine that contains iodine or treats a thyroid condition.
  • A thyroid scan may be done to check your thyroid function. Radioactive dye is put into your IV or is given to you to drink. The working part of the thyroid gland absorbs the dye. Two to 48 hours later, pictures are taken to show the areas of your thyroid that absorbed the dye.

During your procedure:

You will be given the radioactive iodine to drink or as a pill to swallow. This medicine damages cells in your thyroid gland and decreases the amount of thyroid hormone in your blood. If you cannot swallow the medicine, it will be put through an IV tube into a vein in your arm.

After your procedure:

  • Medicines:
    • Antinausea medicine may be given to calm your stomach and to stop you from vomiting.
    • Laxatives may be given to help you have a bowel movement. Bowel movements will help decrease the amount of radiation in your body. You need to have at least 1 bowel movement daily after your procedure.
    • Thyroid hormone is given to keep your thyroid hormone level normal.
  • Drink more liquids to flush the radiation out of your body and prevent dehydration. Adults should drink about 9 to 13 cups of liquid each day. One cup is 8 ounces.
  • Radiation safety directions will be given so you do not expose others.


You may be allergic to radioactive iodine. Your thyroid may no longer function and you may need thyroid medicine for the rest of your life. You may have swelling in your face and neck. You may have eye dryness, headache, nausea and vomiting, trouble swallowing, taste changes, and dental cavities. A condition called thyroid storm may occur if too much thyroid hormone is released into your body. A thyroid storm may cause high fever, fast heartbeat, high blood pressure, and may be life-threatening.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

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