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Date of last update: 10/17/2017.

Forum Name: Endocrinology Topics

Question: Should I consider a thyroid scan?

 lmm - Sun Feb 12, 2006 4:50 am


I am 25 years old, and I was diagnosed hypothyroid in 2000 at the age of 20. A cause for the hypothyroidism was never identified and I have no known family history of thyroid disorders so this came as a surprise. My family has tossed around various theories, including the fact that I was subject to a few deep-skull x-rays as a child (in which it was uncertain if the administraors put the x-ray shield completely over my throat), whether it was caused by various antidepressants I have taken, by stress or just the result of some unknown family link.

Recently I was talking to a nurse friend who recommended that i have a thyroid scan done to be safe and make sure it wasn't cancer that caused the hypothyroidism. I hadnt thought of that since none of the endocrinologists I had seen around the time of diagnosis recommended it and they seemed unconcerned about the cause. I have had my thyroid palpated by several general practitioners and an ENT over the last year, but no nodules or lumps were detected. I am fairly unconcerned about the possibility of cancer since it has now been 5 years and nothing has indicated the presence of anything like that, but I am just curious about 3 things:
1) could deep-skull x-rays ever cause hypothyroidism?
2) how typical is it for thyroid scans to be performed in the absence of a palpable lump/nodule? and,
3) SHOULD i be taking this more serious and actually request a scan be done?

Many thanks for your time and advice!!
 ChristineVA - Wed Feb 15, 2006 10:51 am

I'm not expert but have had thyroid cancer. I did have a palpable lump and so I had a scan. The scan just confirmed it. A scan with not tell you if you have thyroid cancer, only if there are nodules and if the nodules function or don't function.

There can be no reason why a thyroid gland fails. But the biggest reason, I think, is Hashimoto's thyroiditis. This is an autoimmune disorder where the body attacks the thyroid gland and slowly damages the gland. I believe a blood test can detect it. As long as you don't have any palpable nodules, I would not worry. Lots of people get hypothyroidism and it's not really important why, just that it should be treated.

Oh, and yes, X-rays can cause some damage but these were the type of X-rays done in the 40s through the 60s for acne treatment. They are no longer done and, as far as I know, a few x-rays cannot cause this.
 lmm - Wed Feb 15, 2006 1:31 pm

Thanks a bunch for your response! It's very helpful.

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