Tests and diagnosis of Graves' disease

Graves’ disease can be difficult to diagnosis at first. Aside from ophthalmopathy, most of the symptoms of Graves’ disease are shared with other conditions.

Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) stimulates the thyroid gland to release thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3); a doctor may take a blood sample to measure levels of these hormones.

Abnormally high levels of T3 and T4, and a very low level of TSH, are good indications of Graves’ disease.

Another test for Graves’ disease is called radioactive iodine uptake. The patient consumes a small quantity of radioactive iodine by liquid or capsule. Once swallowed, the iodine collects in the thyroid.

The doctor will then perform several scans using a radioactive tracer, the first is usually done 4-6 hours after the iodine has been taken. Following this, a second scan is usually taken 24 hours later.