Southern Derbyshire Shared Care Pathology Guidelines. Hypothyroidism

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1 Southern Derbyshire Shared Care Pathology Guidelines Hypothyroidism Purpose of Guideline The management and referral criteria of patients with newly diagnosed hypothyroidism in adults. Background Hypothyroidism affects up to 4.6% of the UK population and is especially prevalent in elderly females. Presentation of thyroid dysfunction may be nonspecific and linked to other pathologies e.g. iron deficient anaemia, hypercholesterolemia. Long-term effects of hypothyroidism include reduced cardiac output, anaemia, hypogonadism, depression, mental confusion and increased susceptibility to infections Definition Increased TSH and low free T4 When is hypothyroidism suspected? Patients may be asymptomatic especially if they have subclinical hypothyroidism. The number and severity of symptoms will be dependent on the degree of hypothyroidism. Symptoms include; Weakness and tiredness Constipation Weight gain Dry Skin Bradycardia Irregular periods/ infertility What are the major causes of hypothyroidism? Auto-immune thyroiditis eg Hashimoto s thyroiditis Iodine deficiency Drugs, especially lithium &, amiodarone Post Thyroidectomy/Radio-iodine treatment Always consider pituitary disease if normal TSH and low FT4 or FT3. This would usually lead to a consultant endocrinologist referral. Authorised by Julia Forsyth Page 1 of 6

2 Raised TSH TSH 5-10 miu/l Free T4 normal TSH 5-10 miu/l Free T4 Low TSH >10 miu/l Free T4 low Symptoms? Symptoms? Consider thyroxine replacement or repeat in 4-6 weeks if acutely ill Repeat TFTs in 6-12 months with TPO antibodies if symptoms Repeat TFTs in 4-6 weeks with TPO antibodies Repeat TFTs in 1-3 years Repeat TFTs annually or consider thyroxine treatment if symptoms Authorised by Julia Forsyth Page 2 of 6

3 What happens next? For patients presenting with a high TSH the laboratory automatically measures: Free T4 Hypothyroidism what to do next: Hypothyroidism is defined as a high TSH and low thyroid hormones. Diagnosis?autoimmune, transient thyroiditis Check drugs e.g. Amiodarone and Lithium Check for family history Examine for goitre Subclinical hypothyroidism Subclinical hypothyroidism is defined as a raised TSH and normal thyroid hormones. This may be transient and due to non-thyroidal illness. These patients should have a repeat test to monitor thyroid status after acute illness. If TSH result remains borderline suggest review using the following checklist:- Check drugs e.g. Amiodarone and lithium. Check thyroid peroxisomal antibodies (TPO) if not already carried out as a high level of TPO antibodies increases the risk of progression to overt hypothyroidism Consider a trial of treatment if the patient is symptomatic. Consider co-existing pathology e.g. hypertension/cardiac disease before starting treatment especially in the elderly. Positive TPO antibodies increase the risk of progression to overt hypothyroidism by 2.1% per annum in females, higher in males. Thyroid monitoring of patients on Thyroxine The aim of treatment should be to restore and maintain the TSH level within the reference range. Once started on thyroxine, TSH can take up to 4 months to recover. It is recommended to repeat TSH after 6-8 weeks to ensure adequate titration of thyroxine dose. Once TSH is stable it is recommended to carry out annual monitoring. Authorised by Julia Forsyth Page 3 of 6

4 Considerations if unable to normalise TSH Common causes of persistently elevated TSH in patients on levothyroxine replacement are:- o Poor concordance with thyroxine (major cause) o Inadequate thyroxine dose o Interaction with drugs that reduce thyroxine absorption/action o Taking food with levothyroxine o Malabsorption o Coeliac disease or autoimmune gastritis o Laboratory assay interference Increasing occurrence If compliance and drug interactions have been excluded, discuss with duty biochemist or consultant endocrinologist for further investigations/referral. For a list of drugs that affect thyroxine adsorption/action action see appendix 1. Thyroid monitoring in pregnancy Routine screen for primary thyroid disease is not recommended particularly in the first trimester when suppression of TSH due to HCG effects cause apparent thyrotoxic results but may be normal. The foetus is dependant on maternal thyroxine in the first 12 weeks of life, and thyroxine requirements increase at the time of conception so it is important that the woman s thyroid function is optimised preconceptually. Enquire about pregnancy plans when the patient attends for the annual review of their thyroid function. Women planning pregnancy should have a TSH of miu/l. Please inform the endocrinologist at antenatal clinic that a patient with hypothyroidism is pregnant (the midwives will highlight the history when the booking form is received and will draw these to the attention of the endocrinologist who will make an individualised plan). All those with unstable hypothyroidism should also been seen by a consultant endocrinologist when pregnant. In stable hypothyroidism, thyroid function should be monitored approximately every 8 weeks. Please state the gestation, so the lab can quote the pregnancy and gestation specific normal ranges. Myxoedema coma In modern times this type of presentation is rare and the diagnosis is usually made before biochemical results are available. Patients should be transferred to secondary care for appropriate assessment and management of the disease. Authorised by Julia Forsyth Page 4 of 6

5 A final point The thyroid hormone results should always be interpreted with clinical symptoms, age and concurrent disease. Contacts Duty Biochemist (8am to 7pm) On Call Consultant Biochemist Via RDH switchboard, (24/7) Endocrinology Advice Contact Consultant Endocrinologist via switchboard Patient information sheet Patient information sheets can be obtain from the thyroid foundation and patient information website References Thyroid guidelines 2. Chakera A et al, Treatment for primary hypothyroidism: current approaches and future possibilities. Drug design, development and therapy 2012:6, Dayan CM, Interpretation of thyroid function tests. Lancet, 357, Feb 24, 2001, Authors: Dr Rustam Rea, Dr Paru King, Dr John Monaghan, Dr Penelope Blackwell November 2012 Reviewed by: Date: Expiry date: Dr R Stanworth, Dr P Blackwell, Mrs H Seddon May st May 2017 Authorised by Julia Forsyth Page 5 of 6

6 Appendix 1 Drugs known to affect the absorption of thyroxine. These should not be taken at the same time as the thyroxine dose. Discuss with consultant endocrinologist for more information. o Iron o Anti-acids e.g. calcium carbonate o Aluminium hydroxide o Zinc/Magnesium salts o High dose iodine o High fiber Drugs known to increase the metabolism if thyroxine o Phenytoin o Carbamazepine o Phenobarbital Drugs known to decrease the metabolism of thyroxine o Warfarin o Amitriptyline Authorised by Julia Forsyth Page 6 of 6

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