Evaluation of Quantitative Thyroid Scintigraphy for Diagnosis and Staging of Disease Severity in Cats with Hyperthyroidism: Comparison of the Percent Thyroidal Uptake of Pertechnetate to Thyroid-to-Salivary Ratio and Thyroid-to-Background Ratios

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Peterson M.E., Guterl J.N., Rishniw M., et al.

Veterinary Radiology & Ultrasound, 2016. 57(4): p.427-440.


Thyroid scintigraphy is commonly used for evaluation of cats with hyperthyroidism, with the thyroid-to-salivary ratio (T/S) being the most common method to quantify the degree of thyroid activity and disease. Calculation of thyroid-to-background ratios (T/B) or percent thyroidal uptake of 99mTcO−4 (TcTU) has only been reported in a few studies. The purpose of this prospective, cross-sectional study was to evaluate a number of quantitative scintigraphic indices as diagnostic tests for hyperthyroidism, including the T/S, three different T/B, TcTU, and estimated thyroid volume. Of 524 cats referred to our clinic for evaluation of suspected hyperthyroidism, the diagnosis was confirmed (n = 504) or excluded (n = 20) based on results of a serum thyroid panel consisting of thyroxine (T4), triiodothyronine (T3), free T4 (fT4), and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) concentrations. In the hyperthyroid cats, median values for TcTU, T/S, and three T/B ratios were all significantly higher (P < 0.001) than values in euthyroid suspect cats or clinically normal cats. All scintigraphic parameters were relatively sensitive and specific as diagnostic tests for hyperthyroidism, but the T/S ratio had the highest test accuracy. The T/S ratio correlated strongly with the TcTU (r = 0.85). However, the TcTU had a higher and more significant correlation (P < 0.01) with serum T4 (r = 0.76 vs. 0.64), T3 (r = 0.77 vs. 0.64), and estimated thyroid volume (r = 0.62 vs. 0.38). Overall, calculation of TcTU is an accurate diagnostic test, but also appears to be the best parameter to predict the functional volume and metabolic activity of the feline adenomatous thyroid gland.