Tuesday, 8 March 2011

thyroscreenNew self-testing product now available in the UK

A new self-testing product called ThyroScreenTM has just been launched in the UK. Manufactured by Personal Diagnostics Ltd (www.personaldiagnostics.co.uk), it is a self-testing kit to detect an under-active thyroid. There is also a professional pack for use by pharmacists and other healthcare professionals.

The BTF has collaborated with Personal Diagnostics in providing patient information about hypothyroidism. The pack contains an information sheet provided by the BTF and the BTF logo appears on the side of the pack to help raise awareness of the support we can offer to people with hypothyroidism. There is also a leaflet written by the BTF with additional information for healthcare professionals using ThyroScreen Professional to give to patients with a positive result.

How does it work?

The kit contains the equipment to collect a small drop of blood from the finger, on which the test is performed. The kit tests the amount of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), also known as thyrotropin, in the blood. The test has a cut-off TSH level of 5mU/L. It measures whether the TSH is higher (positive) or lower (negative) than the cut-off level. If the TSH level is high this may suggest an under-active thyroid (hypothyroidism). It does not measure the exact level of TSH, only whether it is ‘positive’ or ‘negative’.

Who is it for?

As stated in the manufacturer’s instructions, the kit is not recommended for use by people who have already been diagnosed with hypothyroidism as it only measures whether the TSH is above or below the cut-off point and cannot therefore be used as a basis for treatment. Nor is it suitable for people who may have an over-active thyroid (hyperthyroidism). In hyperthyroidism the TSH is usually less than 0.4mU/L, which is well below the cut-off level of the test kit.

What if the test is ‘positive’?

The BTF and the manufacturers of the kit recommend to people that if the blood test kit shows a positive result, they should visit their GP, who may decide to take a further blood test to find out the exact level of TSH, and, in some cases, FT4, and assess whether treatment is needed.

If the test is negative, but a person is concerned about symptoms, they should make an appointment to see their doctor.

Why is the BTF collaborating over this product?

BTF Director Janis Hickey explains: ‘Our aims are to provide people with responsible information about hypothyroidism. We have not endorsed the product, nor have we received any money from Personal Diagnostics for providing the information. The BTF's position is that we would always recommend that if a person feels they may have a thyroid disorder, their first point of call should be their GP. There may however be some people who prefer to do a test in the privacy of their own home before seeing a doctor, and this of course is a matter of personal choice.’