2019 Volume 66 Issue 11 Pages 953-960
Previous reports by us and other investigators showed that among athyreotic patients on levothyroxine (LT4) following total thyroidectomy patients with normal serum thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels had mildly low serum free triiodothyronine (FT3) levels, whereas patients with mildly suppressed serum TSH levels had normal serum FT3 levels and patients with strongly suppressed serum TSH had elevated serum FT3 levels. The objective of this study was to clarify which of these three patient groups are closer to their preoperative euthyroid condition based on reported subjective symptoms. We prospectively studied 148 consecutive euthyroid patients with papillary thyroid carcinoma who underwent a total thyroidectomy. Symptoms reflecting thyroid function documented preoperatively and following 12 months of LT4 after thyroidectomy were compared. In 65 patients with strongly suppressed TSH levels significant changes in symptoms with tendencies towards thyrotoxicosis were seen with regards to heat and cold tolerance (p < 0.01), bowel movements (p < 0.05), and hand tremors (p < 0.05). In 33 patients with normal TSH levels, significant changes in symptoms with tendencies towards hypothyroidism were seen with regards to heat and cold tolerance (p < 0.05) and activity (p < 0.05). Lastly, in 50 patients with mildly suppressed TSH levels and FT3 levels equivalent to preoperative levels, all symptom items remained equivalent to their preoperative levels. Symptoms reflecting thyroid function in patients on LT4 following total thyroidectomy suggested that patients with mildly suppressed TSH levels were closest to a euthyroid status. These data provide useful findings regarding the management of patients following total thyroidectomy.