What is Postpartum Thyroiditis

Postpartum Thyroiditis is a disorder of the Thyroid Gland.

Statistics on Postpartum Thyroiditis

This disorder accounts for most cases of postpartum thyroid dysfunction. It occurs in about 5 to 10% of postpartum women.

Risk Factors for Postpartum Thyroiditis

Although the etiology of silent lymphocytic thyroiditis is obscure, recent evidence suggests that it is an autoimmune disease. It is believed to develop from the modifications to the immune system necessary in pregnacy

Progression of Postpartum Thyroiditis

Silent lymphocytic thyroiditis is characterized by a variable degree of thyroid enlargement, absence of thyroid tenderness, and a self-limited hyperthyroid phase of several weeks, often followed by transient hypothyroidism due to depleted thyroid hormone stores but usually eventual recovery to the euthyroid state. The hyperthyroid phase may be brief or overlooked, and many women with this disorder are diagnosed when they become hypothyroid, which occasionally is permanent.

How is Postpartum Thyroiditis Diagnosed?

The thyroid gland is only slightly enlarged and exophthalmos (development of “bug eyes”) does not occur.

Prognosis of Postpartum Thyroiditis

The disease usually needs no treatment and 80% of patients show complete recovery and return of the thyroid gland to normal after three months.

How is Postpartum Thyroiditis Treated?

Since silent lymphocytic thyroiditis is a self-limited transient disorder lasting a few months, treatment is conservative, usually requiring only a beta-blocker, such as propranolol, during the hyperthyroid phase. Antithyroid drugs, surgical treatment, and radioiodine therapy are contraindicated. The transient phase of hypothyroidism may require thyroid hormone replacement therapy. Most patients recover normal thyroid function, although some may remain permanently hypothyroid; therefore, thyroid function should be reevaluated in 6 to 12 mo.

Postpartum Thyroiditis References

  1. Ballinger, A. Patchett, S., Saunders’ Pocket Essentials of Clinical Medicine 2nd ed. W.B. Saunders, 2000
  2. Collier, J., Longmore, M., Duncan – Brown, T. Oxford Handbook of Clinical Specialties 5th Ed. 2001. Oxford University Press.
  3. Kumar P, Clark M. CLINICAL MEDICINE. WB Saunders 2002
  4. Longmore M, Wilkinson I, Torok E. OXFORD HANDBOOK OF CLINICAL MEDICINE. Oxford Universtiy Press. 2001
  5. Thyroiditis as retrieved from www.merck.comon 18/12/2003

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