The diagnosis of hyperthyroidism is confirmed by blood tests that show a decreased thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) level and elevated T 4 and T 3 levels. TSH is a hormone made by the pituitary gland in the brain that tells the thyroid gland how much hormone to make. When there is too much thyroid hormone, the TSH will be low. A radioactive iodine uptake test and thyroid scan together characterizes or enables radiologists and doctors to determine the cause of hyperthyroidism. The uptake test uses radioactive iodine injected or taken orally on an empty stomach to measure the amount of iodine absorbed by the thyroid gland. Persons with hyperthyroidism absorb much more iodine than healthy persons which includes the radioactive iodine which is easy to measure. A thyroid scan producing images is typically conducted in connection with the uptake test to allow visual examination of the over-functioning gland.
Hypothalamic disorders cause reduced TSH secretion by impairing the production or transport of TRH to the pituitary gland. Hypothyroidism may occur because the pituitary secretes TSH in insufficient quantities, or secretes TSH with an abnormal glycosylation pattern which reduces the biologic activity of TSH 1,2,3 . Treatment with oral TRH restores the biologic activity of TSH, suggesting that deficient hypothalamic TRH release induces both quantitative and qualitative abnormalities of TSH secretion. TSH molecules with reduced biologic activity may retain their immunologic reactivity in TSH immunoassays, explaining the sometimes observed slightly increased values of serum TSH (up to 10 mU/l) in central hypothyroidism 18, 23 .