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Radioactive Iodine Therapy

Middle-aged to older felines often experience hyperthyroidism, a disease involving excessive thyroid hormone in the body, usually caused by a non-cancerous tumor called a thyroid adenoma.

Hyperthyroidism is diagnosed by combining history, physical examination and laboratory testing. Several treatments may be used for this disease, including daily medication (for the rest of the cat’s life), surgery and our preferred treatment, radioiodine (I-131) therapy.

The I-131 treatment center is staffed by Avets clinicians and caregivers, allowing us to offer local follow-up. Because we are a 24-hour emergency and specialty veterinary hospital, our veterinarians and staff are in attendance to your pets at all times, including monitoring the video feed from the I-131 ward.

  • Radioiodine (I-131) is considered the treatment of choice—it’s cost-effective when weighed against the long-term cost of medical therapy and is typically successful.
  • An injection of radioactive iodine is given under the cat’s skin, absorbed into the body and concentrated in the thyroid gland. The cat remains in a specially designed ward in the hospital for about five days until the radiation level is low enough to go home. Additional precautions are then taken for a few weeks to limit radiation exposure from the cat.
  • Most (>95%) cats are cured of the disease with one treatment, a few need a second treatment and a very small number have a cancerous tumor that will require referral for high-dose radiation. Additional complications are usually mild and self-limiting, such as signs attributable to a sore throat.

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