Harvard Researchers Link Iodine Based Contrast Material to Hyperthyroidism

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Harvard University researchers have documented a link between iodinated contrast media used in CT scans and hyperthyroidism, based on a report in the January 23 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital looked at data from nearly 2,000 patients from 1990 to 2010.

While the authors found an association between the commonly-used contrast material and hyperthyroidism, they stop short of advocating policy implications and instead suggest further study.

In an accompanying commentary to the article, Elizabeth N. Pearce, MD, of Boston University School of Medicine, says the research represents an important contribution to a clinically relevant and understudied area.

“These data represent an important contribution to our knowledge about a clinically relevant and understudied area,” Pearce writes. “(Study authors) have demonstrated that a relatively large proportion of individuals who developed iodine-induced thyroid dysfunction were not known to have underlying risk factors. Therefore, patients who may be particularly unable to tolerate thyroid dysfunction, such as those with underlying unstable cardiovascular disease, are also good candidates for monitoring of thyroid function after iodine exposure.”