Pseudomalabsorption of Levothyroxine

Kenneth B. Ain, Samuel Refetoff, Henry G. Fein, Bruce D. Weintraub

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


Objective.—The issue of patient compliance with pharmacological therapy vs malabsorption of medication was explored in the context of persistent hypothyroidism despite the administration of large doses of levothyroxine sodium. Design.—Retrospective case series. Setting.—Referred care in two large tertiary care centers. Patients.—Four patients, seen within two decades, with clinical and biochemical hypothyroidism while receiving levothyroxine, were evaluated for selective malabsorption of this hormone. Interventions.—Studies included serial measurements of thyroid hormone levels after a loading dose of levothyroxine or liothyronine sodium or evaluation with a double-labeled thyroxine tracer technique. Results were compared with studies of levothyroxine malabsorption in the medical literature. Results.—All patients were ultimately found to have normal (82% to 100%) absorption of oral levothyroxine. There was no evidence that malabsorption of levothyroxine can occur as an isolated abnormality. Conclusions.—Some patients exhibit a factitious disorder suggesting malabsorption of levothyroxine. When treating hypothyroidism, psychiatric issues may result in noncompliance with levothyroxine therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2118-2120
Number of pages3
Issue number15
StatePublished - Oct 16 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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