A Systematic Review of Clinical Practice Guidelines’ Recommendations on Levothyroxine Therapy Alone versus Combination Therapy (LT4 plus LT3) for Hypothyroidism

Eyal Kraut, Pendar Farahani


Purpose: Patients with hypothyroidism are increasingly enquiring about the benefit of using combination therapy of levothyroxine (LT4) and liothyronine (LT3) as a potential treatment for hypothyroidism. Combination therapy, however, remains controversial. The purpose of this study was to systematically review available hypothyroidism treatment recommendations from clinical practice guidelines from around the world to identify the consensus regarding combination therapy.

Source: Clinical practice guidelines were obtained from searches of PubMed, EMBASE, and MEDLINE, using several combinations of MeSH terms. The search was limited to clinical guidelines in English-language publications, published between January 1, 1990 and May 1, 2015. A quantitative approach was utilized for data synthesis.

Principal Findings: Thirteen guidelines were identified, including three regarding pregnancy, two regarding pediatric populations and eight regarding adult populations. There were six guidelines from North America, four guidelines from Europe and three guidelines from South America. Twelve of the guidelines were published after 2010. Nine guidelines addressed combination therapy of LT4 plus LT3, and all nine concluded that LT4 therapy alone is the standard of care, with insufficient evidence to recommend widespread combination therapy. Only the 2012 ETA Guidelines and the 2015 BTA Guidelines concluded that combination therapy could be used, although only in certain circumstances and as an experimental treatment.

Conclusion: This systematic review illustrates that clinical practice guidelines worldwide do not recommend and do not support routine use of combination LT4 and LT3 therapy to treat hypothyroidism.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.25011/cim.v38i6.26194


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