Radioactive Iodine Treatment for Hyperthyroidism

Radioactive iodine (RAI) is a permanent treatment for hyperthyroidism.  It is also a way to treat patients who have not improved on oral medication.  

  • Prior to RAI the patient will need blood tests drawn.
  • Thyroid medication will be stopped and further instructions will be given to the family.
  • Before treatment, patients may need to follow a low iodine (salt) diet. 
  • Patients should also avoid red dye found in some drinks and candy.

This treatment will take two days:

  • On the first day, patients will receive medication by mouth in the nuclear medicine department.
  • On the second day, a thyroid scan will be done.

Patients will be given a list of directions after receiving RAI treatment.  This is to prevent exposing other people to the radiation, which can leave the body through saliva, sweat and urine.  The doctor in nuclear medicine will talk to you about this. 

Your child may have neck pain and brief worsening of hyperthyroidism due to swelling of the thyroid gland. This pain can last for several days to a week after treatment.    

Call the endocrinology office if your child develops neck pain, severe fatigue or worsening of hyperthyroidism.

Last Updated 04/2014