Thyroid Disease


The thyroid gland produces thyroid hormones which are essential for many metabolic processes. Diseases of the thyroid gland are common and usually result from enlargement of the thyroid gland, called a goitre, or the production of too much or too little thyroid hormone.

Keywords: goitre; hyperthyroidism; hypothyroidism; Graves disease; Hashimoto thyroiditis

Figure 1.

Chemical structure of the major thyroid hormones.

Figure 2.

Diagrammatic representation of the control of thyroid hormone secretion. The hypothalamus releases thyrotrophin‐releasing hormone (TRH), which stimulates the pituitary to release thyrotrophin (TSH), which then promotes the release of thyroid hormones. Circulating thyroid hormones exert negative feedback at the level of the hypothalamus and the pituitary.

Figure 3.

Algorithm for the investigation of the patient with a solitary thyroid nodule (FNA = fine needle aspiration; US = ultrasound).



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Further Reading

Beck‐Peccoz P, Brucker‐Davis F, Personi L et al. (1996) Thyrotropin‐secreting pituitary tumors. Endocrine Reviews 17(6): 610–638.

Chatterjee VK (1997) Resistance to thyroid hormone. Hormone Research 48(supplement 4): 43–46.

Chopra IJ (1997) Euthyroid sick syndrome: is it a misnomer? Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 82(2): 329–333.

Farrar JJ and Toft AD (1991) Iodine‐131 treatment of hyperthyroidism: current issues. Clinical Endocrinology 35: 207–212.

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Lindsay RS and Toft AD (1997) Hypothyroidism. Lancet 349: 413–417.

Marcocci C, Bartalena L, Pinchera A et al. (1996) Recent progress in Graves' ophthalmopathy. Current Opinion in Endocrinology and Diabetes 3: 417–421.

Surks MI and Sievert R (1995) Drugs and thyroid function. New England Journal of Medicine 333(25): 1688–1694.

Weetman AP (1997) Hypothyroidism: screening and subclinical disease. British Medical Journal 314: 1175–1178.

Weetman AP (1997) New aspects of thyroid immunity. Hormone Research 48(supplement 4): 51–54.

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How to Cite close
Hunt, Penelope J, and Wass, John AH(Jun 2001) Thyroid Disease. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0002259]