Experience shared by a group member…..
I have been taking the anti-arrhythmic drug Amiodarone for about 2 years.
There are a number of side effects associated with this medicine so in order for medical staff to monitor the effects of the drug I attend the GP surgery for 6 monthly blood tests. These tests can indicate if thyroid, liver and renal function are normal. I also ensure that I have annual eye check up.
It was after one of these tests I was informed that my liver function and thyroid results were abnormal. Consequently I was advised to reduce the dosage of Amiodarone and review in a couple of weeks.
Despite the reduction (again) in the drug dose my bloods indicated that I had an amiodarone induced over active thyroid.
The thyroid gland
This required a referral to an Endocrinologist and a plan of treatment was then prescribed.
The plan was to commence anti thyroid medication but there was an alternative course of action. The endocrinologist explained that radioactive iodine therapy was effective for some people.
An appointment was made for me to visit the Nuclear Medicine Department where I was to undertake a Isotope Thyroid Uptake Study….
This is a scan which demonstrates the position and activity of the thyroid gland.
My information letter read,
‘Nuclear medicine examinations involve the administration of a small amount of radioactive material known as an isotope. This allows … demonstrate the function of specific systems in the body. Pictures are acquired using a special piece of equipment known as a Gamma Camera’.
This sounds scary but actually (from my point of view) went very smoothly. I contacted the Physiology Department for advice regarding the scan and my ICD and reassurances were given that it would be a safe scan.
Pre test …
I was informed not to eat fish, drink large quantities of milk 3 days before the test and was given advice regarding stopping some of my medication.
The day of the test …
I enjoyed a light breakfast but was told not to eat or drink anything for an hour after receiving the iodine.
The test …
involved entering a room with a radiographer. She then brought out a universal tube similar to this one
Inside was a few mls of odourless, clear liquid. I drank this in via a straw and the container was then filled with water 3 times and drunk to ensure that all the iodine had been taken. I then left the department with instructions to return in 4 hours.
Needless to say the waiting time between ingestion and scan seemed to take forever!!!
On my return I was taken into the scan room.
Initially I thought that my whole body would have to go through the large scanner, however, much to my relief that was not the case. Instead I lay down very flat on my back and the scan was positioned over my neck / head area.
It did seem overpowering but the radiography staff were fantastic. Whilst one offered constant reassurances the other used a hand held scan over the gland.
The scan took 10 minutes. I was asked to wait another 10 minutes whilst they did a comparison scan after which I was free to go and advised to minimise contact with children and pregnant women for the remainder of the day.
Some questions & answers on my preparation leaflet included-
Is there any preparation for the test ?- Read your individual examination letter.
Are there any side effects? – No, there are no known side effects. The purpose is to provide information about the function of specific organs in the body.
Can I take prescribed medication? – Read your individual appointment letter.
Will there be any after effects? – There should be no further effects following your examination.
Remember, this is a personal experience.
If in doubt about any aspect of health/ care speak to your health professionals for advice, they will be only too glad to help.