How is diffuse toxic goiter diagnosed?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

Your doctor may be able to diagnose a goiter simply by feeling your neck during a physical examination. Several more tests can confirm a goiter. Blood tests can measure the level of thyroid hormones in your blood to test whether your thyroid is overactive. A radioactive iodine uptake test can measure the rate at which your thyroid produces hormones to determine if it is overactive.

Dr. Jack Merendino, MD
Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism
Diffuse toxic goiter is another term for Graves’ disease. This alternative name is meant to distinguish Graves’ disease, which is diffuse (i.e., it involves the whole thyroid uniformly) from toxic nodular goiter, where there are one or more nodules within the thyroid that are the cause of hyperthyroidism.  

Graves’ disease may be diagnosed in several ways, but the most useful approach involves two steps. First, blood tests confirm hyperthyroidism, or too much thyroid hormone in the blood. The thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) level is low and the total or free thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) levels are elevated. Second, a thyroid scan and radioactive iodine uptake show that a higher-than-normal amount of iodine is being extracted from the blood by the thyroid and the iodine is going into all areas of the thyroid uniformly. This combination of findings confirms Graves’ disease and allows for proper treatment with medication, radioactive iodine or surgery. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.