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Br Med J (Clin Res Ed). 1984 March 3; 288(6418): 693–695.
PMCID: PMC1444413

Total and free thyroid hormone concentrations in patients receiving maintenance replacement treatment with thyroxine.


Total and free serum concentrations of thyroxine and triiodothyronine were measured in 122 subjects with hypothyroidism who were clinically well while receiving conventional replacement treatment with thyroxine. In a third of patients concentrations of total and free thyroxine were raised, often considerably; nevertheless concentrations of total and free triiodothyronine were usually normal. Though significant correlations were obtained between total triiodothyronine concentrations and total thyroxine concentrations (p less than 0.001) and between the triiodothyronine concentrations and free thyroxine concentrations (p less than 0.001) the slope of the line of the regression equation describing these correlations was small, hence large increases in both total and free thyroxine concentrations were accompanied by only modest increases in total and free triiodothyronine concentrations. The presence of total or free thyroxine concentrations above normal in patients taking thyroxine therefore are not necessarily of clinical consequence. In the assessment of adequacy of replacement treatment with thyroxine the most logical combination of in vitro thyroid function test results may be a normal thyrotrophin concentration and normal free triiodothyronine concentration.

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