ITALIAN ASSOCIATION OF CLINICAL ENDOCRINOLOGISTS STATEMENT-REPLACEMENT THERAPY FOR PRIMARY HYPOTHYROIDISM: A BRIEF GUIDE FOR CLINICAL PRACTICE.Endocr Pract 2016; 22(11):1319-1326EP
Hypothyroidism requires life-long thyroid hormone replacement therapy in most patients. Oral levothyroxine (LT4) is an established safe and effective treatment for hypothyroidism, but some issues remain unsettled.
The Italian Association of Clinical Endocrinologists appointed a panel of experts to provide an updated statement for appropriate use of thyroid hormone formulations for hypothyroidism replacement therapy. The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists' protocol for standardized production of clinical practice guidelines was followed.
LT4 is the first choice in replacement therapy. Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) should be maintained between 1.0 and 3.0 mIU/L in young subjects and at the upper normal limit in elderly or fragile patients. Achievement of biochemical targets, patient well-being, and adherence to treatment should be addressed. In patients with unstable serum TSH, a search for interfering factors and patient compliance is warranted. Liquid or gel formulations may be considered in subjects with hampered LT4 absorption or who do not allow sufficient time before or after meals and LT4 replacement. Replacement therapy with LT4 and L-triiodothyronine (LT3) combination is generally not recommended. A trial may be considered in patients with normal values of serum TSH who continue to complain of symptoms of hypothyroidism only after co-existent nonthyroid problems have been excluded or optimally managed. LT3 should be administered in small (LT4:LT3 ratio, 10:1 to 20:1) divided daily doses. Combined therapy should be avoided in elderly patients or those with cardiac risk factors and in pregnancy.
LT4 therapy should be aimed at resolution of symptoms of hypothyroidism, normalization of serum TSH, and improvement of quality of life. In selected cases, the use of liquid LT4 formulations or combined LT4/LT3 treatment may be considered to improve adherence to treatment or patient well-being.
AACE = American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists FT3 = free triiodothyronine FT4 = free thyroxine LT3 = levotriiodothyronine LT4 = levothyroxine MeSH = medicine medical subject headings QoL = quality of life TSH = thyroid-stimulating hormone.