Pertechnetate scintigraphy in primary congenital hypothyroidism

George N. Sfakianakis, Shabbir H. Ezuddin, Janine E. Sanchez, Margaret Eidson, William Cleveland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Primary congenital hypothyroidism (PCH) is currently detected effectively by heel-stick screening. When elevated thyrotropin (TSH) and/or decreased T4 are found in the blood of neonates, they are recalled, values are confirmed in venous blood and thyroxine replacement therapy (TRT) is immediately instituted, thus cretinism or severe retardation is prevented. However, in a significant percentage of neonates with abnormal blood levels of T4 or TSH, the disorder is transient. To help determine the exact cause of PCH and the possibility of transient PCH, pinhole thyroid imaging is performed 30 min after an intravenous injection of 18.5 MBq (500 μCi) 99mTc-pertechnetate (TcPT). Patients with a nonvisualized gland or patients with images suggesting dyshormonogenesis are reevaluated at age 3-4 y to exclude transient PCH. Methods: To define the role of TcPT imaging in determining the exact etiology of PCH and the possibility of its being transient, we reviewed data from 103 neonates with PCH who had scintigraphy in our laboratory between 1970 and 1996 and we correlated the results with clinical outcome. Results: Four patterns of thyroid scintigrams were recognized and these determined patient classification: (a) normal in 7 patients with false-positive heel-stick screening but normal venous blood hormone levels; (b) hypoplasia-ectopia in 32 patients requiring lifelong TRT; (c) nonvisualization in 35 patients - 32 with agenesis requiring lifelong TRT and 3 with fetal thyroid suppression by maternal antibodies whose TRT was discontinued at a later age; and (d) dyshormonogenesis (markedly increased TcPT concentration) in 29 patients - 25 with permanent PCH requiring lifelong TRT and 4 with transient PCH in whom TRT was discontinued: Of the 25 patients with dyshormonogenesis, 12 belonged to five families with two or three siblings having the same disorder. Conclusion: TcPT thyroid scintigraphy in the neonate with PCH provides a more specific diagnosis, is useful for selecting patients for re-evaluation to uncover transient PCH and discontinue TRT and defines dyshormonogenesis, which is familial and requires genetic counseling. It is also cost-effective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)799-804
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Nuclear Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1999


  • Agenesis of thyroid
  • Congenital hypothyroidism
  • Dyshormonogenesis
  • Ectopic thyroid
  • Familial congenital hypothyroidism
  • Thyroid scintigraphy
  • Transient congenital hypothyroidism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology


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