ABBREVIATIONS & DEFINITIONS
Graves’ disease: the most common cause of hyperthyroidism in the United States. It is caused by antibodies that attack the thyroid and turn it on.
Hyperthyroidism: a condition where the thyroid gland is overactive and produces too much thyroid hormone. Hyperthyroidism may be treated with antithyroid meds (Methimazole, Propylthiouracil), radioactive iodine or surgery.
Thyroid scan: this imaging test uses a small amount of a radioactive substance, usually radioactive iodine, to obtain a picture of the thyroid gland.
TSH receptor: A molecule (protein) located on the thyroid cell surface that binds TSH and stimulates the production of the thyroid hormones within the thyroid cell.
TRAb: antibodies often present in the serum of patients with Graves disease that are directed against the TSH receptor, often causing stimulation of this receptor with resulting hyperthyroidism.
Radioactive iodine (RAI): this plays a valuable role in diagnosing and treating thyroid problems since it is taken up only by the thyroid gland. I-131 is the destructive form used to destroy thyroid tissue in the treatment of thyroid cancer and with an overactive thyroid. I-123 is the non-destructive form that does not damage the thyroid and is used in scans to take pictures of the thyroid (Thyroid Scan) or to take pictures of the whole body to look for thyroid cancer (Whole Body Scan).
Thyroidectomy: surgery to remove the entire thyroid gland. When the entire thyroid is removed it is termed a total thyroidectomy. When less is removed, such as in removal of a lobe, it is termed a partial thyroidectomy.
Methimazole: an antithyroid medication that blocks the thyroid from making thyroid hormone. Methimazole is used to treat hyperthyroidism, especially when it is caused by Graves’ disease.
Propylthiouracil (PTU): an antithyroid medication that blocks the thyroid from making thyroid hormone. Propylthiouracil is used to treat hyperthyroidism, especially in women during pregnancy.