Treating of Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism is the most common hormone based disease in cats. It is characterized by the overproduction of thyroid hormone and a subsequent increase of metabolic rate in your cat. During this disease the thyroid gland sometimes enlarges, but less than 2 percent of these growths involve malignant thyroid gland tumors.
Hyperthyroidism is a multi-systemic disease process. Many important organ systems can be effected and symptoms may change during the disease process. Those organ systems which are frequently targeted include; the heart, lungs, kidneys, blood pressure regulation and the skeletal muscle system.

Dr. Paul Howard, of the Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Center (VESC), is licensed in radioactive iodine treatment, and began providing the service in April of 2003. I-131 is considered the treatment of choice for most affected felines. The VESC is one of a limited number of hospitals nationwide to offer this alternative.

Your primary veterinarian will perform pretreatment evaluations to determine whether I-131 is a reasonable alternative for your cat. If your companion is determined to be a good treatment candidate, you will be allowed to schedule a hospitalization stay of approximately five days.  Daily progress reports from the Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Center are available through the nursing staff.

Since less than 2% of hyperthyroid cats have cancerous growths, treatment is usually very successful.

Several tests may be needed to identify the best choice for your friend.

1. Radioactive Iodine Therapy
A very effective way to treat hyperthyroidism. It is administered by a single injection of radioactive iodine (I-131) by a veterinarian specifically licensed to administer radioactive isotopes and is considered by most authorities to be the treatment of choice.

2. Surgery
Surgical removal of the thyroid nodules can also be a very effective cure, if the disease is restricted to one easily accessible thyroid gland. Statistically, 70% of patients have nodules in both glands and may, therefore, require multiple surgical procedures. Anesthetic, operative and postoperative complications are also a significant concern in these patients.

3. Oral Medication
Daily administration of an oral drug, methimazole, is another option. With this option, the abnormal tissue is not destroyed, but rather prevented from producing excess thyroid hormone.

Dr. Howard and the staff at the VESC feel privileged to offer this safe, effective, and convenient treatment to the cat families of the central Virginia region.

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