MANAGEMENT OF ENDOCRINE DISEASE: Subclinical thyrotoxicosis: prevalence, causes and choice of therapy

Allan Carlé, Stine Linding Andersen, Kristien Boelaert, Peter Laurberg

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13 Citations (Scopus)


Subclinical thyrotoxicosis is a condition affecting up to 10% of the population in some studies. We have reviewed literature and identified studies describing prevalences, causes and outcomes of this condition. Treatment should be considered in all subjects if this biochemical abnormality is persistent, especially in case of symptoms of thyrotoxicosis or in the presence of any complication. In particular, treatment should be offered in those subclinically thyrotoxic patients with a sustained serum TSH below 0.1 U/L. However it is important to recognise that there are no large controlled intervention studies in the field and thus there is no high quality evidence to guide treatment recommendations. In particular, there is no evidence for therapy and there is weak evidence of harm from thyrotoxicosis if serum TSH is in the 0.1-0.4 IU/L range. In this review, we describe the different causes of subclinical thyrotoxicosis, and how treatment should be tailored to the specific cause. We advocate radioactive iodine treatment to be the first-line treatment in majority of patients suffering from subclinical thyrotoxicosis due to multinodular toxic goitre and solitary toxic adenoma, but we do generally not recommend it as the first-line treatment in patients suffering from subclinical Graves' hyperthyroidism. Such patients may benefit mostly from antithyroid drug therapy. Subclinical thyrotoxicosis in early pregnancy should in general be observed, not treated. Moreover, we advocate a general restriction of therapy in cases where no specific cause for the presumed thyroid hyperactivity has been proven.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)R325-R337
JournalEuropean Journal of Endocrinology
Issue number6
Early online date8 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017


  • Journal Article
  • Review


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