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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:

  • 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 to treat 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.

The night before your procedure:

Ask healthcare providers about directions for eating and drinking.

The day of your procedure:

  • You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives healthcare providers permission to do the procedure or surgery. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.
  • Write down the correct date, time, and location of your procedure.


What will happen:

You will be given 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:

Do the following for as long as directed:

  • Stay 6 to 7 feet away from others to prevent exposing them to the radiation inside you.
  • Sleep in a different room than your partner for 2 to 3 days after your procedure.
  • Drink more liquid so you do not become dehydrated. Adults should drink about 9 to 13 cups of liquid each day. One cup is 8 ounces.
  • Flush your toilet 2 to 3 times after you go to the bathroom.
  • Wash your hands often and rinse the sink afterward.
  • Wash your clothes and dishes separately from clothes and dishes of others.


  • You are losing weight without trying.
  • You cannot make it to your procedure.
  • You have a fever.
  • You think you may be pregnant.
  • You have questions or concerns about your procedure.

Seek Care Immediately if

  • You are sweating more than usual.
  • Your heartbeat is more than 100 beats per minute.
  • You have new, severe headaches.
  • You have sudden trouble breathing.


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.

Care Agreement

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

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.