Radioactive iodine treatment

Tortoiseshell cat

Radioactive iodine treatment is considered the ‘gold standard’ for the treatment of hyperthyroidism and usually provides a complete cure.

Iodine is used by the thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormone.  An injection of radioactive iodine will destroy the diseased thyroid tissue, but will have no effect on other organs.  The treatment provides a life-long cure in over 95% of patients and has the lowest risk of side effects of all the treatment options.

Some conditions will become more obvious once the thyroid hormone level reduces, for example kidney disease.  In these cases, radioactive iodine treatment may not be appropriate as it is not reversible.  For this reason, most treatment centres will require the cat to be stabilised on food or medication prior to radioactive iodine treatment.

Cat in hospital cage eatingAfter the injection, the cat will excrete radioactive material.  For this reason, he will need to be kept hospitalised in isolation for a period of time (this time will depend on the dose of iodine injected and on the Radiation Protection licence at the treatment centre).  Contact will need to be kept limited for a period of around 4 weeks, although your cat may be allowed to come home before this time (see table below), depending on other household members.  Children and pregnant women are at particular risk so your cat may need to be hospitalised for a little longer.  Urine and faeces will need to be carefully disposed of.

The table below lists the centres which currently offer radioactive iodine therapy in the UK.  The price quoted varies as to what it includes and is correct as of 19th October 2018.  When you are referred, the exact costs will be discussed in more detail.  Some cats will need to stay at the centre longer than the minimum stay and this is likely to increase the cost.

Your vet will need to refer you to one of these centres, so contact them in the first instance.

Centre Location Minimum stay Basic cost
University of Glasgow School of Veterinary Medicine Glasgow 2 weeks
The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies Edinburgh 10 days
The Hyperthyroid Cat Centre Yorkshire 5 days £1800
Bishopton Veterinary Group Yorkshire 2 weeks £1650
Pride Veterinary Centre Derby 2 weeks £2100
Animal Health Trust Cambridgeshire 3 weeks £2160
Rowe Veterinary Referrals Gloucestershire 2 weeks £1425
Queen Mother Hospital for Animals  Hertfordshire 15 days £2423.59
Langford Veterinary Services Bristol 10 days £2500
Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists Hampshire 10-14 days £1900
Barton Veterinary Hospital Kent 2 weeks
Willows Veterinary Centre and Referral Service Birmingham 15 days £2520

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