More Than Just T4: Diagnostic Testing for Hyperthyroidism in Cats

Peterson M.E.


Journal of feline medicine and surgery, 2013. 15(9): p.765-77.


Clinical challenges: In older cats presenting with clinical features of hyperthyroidism, confirmation of a diagnosis of thyroid disease is usually straightforward. However, the potential for false-negative and false-positive results exists with all thyroid function tests (especially in the context of routine screening of asymptomatic cats) and leads to clinical dilemmas. For example, a high serum T4 value may be found in a cat that lacks clinical signs of hyperthyroidism, or hyperthyroidism may be suspected in a cat with normal total T4 concentrations. Practical relevance: To avoid unnecessary treatment and potentially adverse effects in a euthyroid cat, thyroid function tests must always be interpreted in the light of the cat’s history, clinical signs, physical examination findings and other laboratory findings. Evidence base: In this article the author reviews the use of commonly recommended thyroid function tests, focusing on clinical scenarios that present diagnostic difficulties. In doing so, he draws on the veterinary and comparative literature, his own clinical experience, and data, unpublished to date, obtained from a series of 100 hyperthyroid cats consecutively diagnosed at his clinic.