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Thyroid Function Testing

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Thyroid function tests are utilized by essentially all medical practitioners, across every clinical setting, in patients from newborns to the elderly. They are the most frequently measured endocrine tests. The sensitive thyrotropin (TSH) assay reflects thyroid hormone feedback to the pituitary, and is diagnostic of both thyroid h- mone excess as well as deficiency. The log-linear relationship between serum TSH and thyroxine concentrations means that small changes in serum thyroxine are amplified by changes in serum TSH. The availability of the sensitive TSH assay in essentially all clinical laboratories has improved and simplified the assessment of thyroid function for the diagnosis of thyroid disease and to monitor treatment. Serum free thyroxine and thyrotropin concentrations, as well as other thyroid tests, can be measured utilizing an automated immunoassay platform that provides rapid and accurate results. This simplified approach to thyroid assessment, often requ- ing only a serum TSH measurement, and rapid availability of the thyroid function tests results, has expanded the scope of thyroid testing and clinicians ordering and interpretingth yroid tests. There remain, however, many challenges in selecting the appropriate thyroid function test to order, the correct interpretation of results, and applying these results to the diagnosis and management of thyroid diseases. It is especially important to be aware of limitations of thyroid function tests, as well as special clinical c- cumstances that can influence thyroid function measurements. The serum TSH concentration, for example, may not accurately reflect thyroid status in many si- ations including after prolonged hyperthyroidism when serum TSH remains s- pressed for months, in the presence of hypothalamic or pituitary disease, or due to a number of interfering medications. The serum free thyroxine, measured by the analog method, is not accurate with high or low serum binding proteins and d- ing pregnanc


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