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  • Funding sources: This research received no grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Previous presentations and abstracts: This study was presented as a research abstract at the 32rd Annual Veterinary Medical Forum of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, New Orleans, LA in 2012.


Thyroid scintigraphy is currently the reference standard for diagnosing and staging cats with hyperthyroidism, but few studies describing the scintigraphic characteristics in a large number of cats have been reported. The objective of this study was to better characterize thyroid scintigraphy findings by evaluating 2096 consecutive cats with hyperthyroidism that were referred over a 3.5-year period. Of these cats, 2068 (98.7%) had a high thyroid-to-salivary ratio (>1.5), whereas 2014 (96.1%) were found to have a high thyroid-to-background ratio (>6.1). When the patterns of the cats’ thyroid disease were recorded, 665 (31.7%) had unilateral disease, 1060 (50.6%) had bilateral-asymmetric disease (two thyroid lobes unequal in size), 257 (12.3%) had bilateral-symmetric disease (both lobes similar in size), and 81 (3.9%) had multifocal disease (≥3 areas of increased radionuclide uptake). The number of areas of 99mTcO4 uptake in the 2096 cats ranged from 1 to 6 (median, 2), located in the cervical area in 2057 (98.1%), thoracic inlet in 282 (13.5%), and in the thoracic cavity in 115 (5.5%). Ectopic thyroid tissue (e.g. lingual or mediastinal) was diagnosed in 81 (3.9%) cats, whereas thyroid carcinoma was suspected in 35 (1.7%) of the cats. The results of this study support conclusions that most hyperthyroid cats have unilateral or bilateral thyroid nodules, but that multifocal disease will develop in a few cats that have ectopic thyroid disease or thyroid carcinoma. Both ectopic thyroid disease and thyroid carcinoma are relatively uncommon in hyperthyroid cats, with a respective prevalence of ∼4% and ∼2% in this study.