Hypothyroidism: Laboratory Findings

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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Laboratory Assessment of Thyroid Function. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Hypothyroidism: Laboratory Findings

When the laboratory result for TSH is found to be elevated above the established reference interval and the free levels of T4 or T3 are low, these finding support a diagnosis of primary hypothyroidism. If, however, the TSH is low and the levels of free T4 (FT4) or free T3 (FT3) are also low or normal, these findings suggest a secondary cause for the hypothyroidism. Finally, an elevated TSH with normal levels of FT4 and FT3 in the absence of overt clinical symptoms is interpreted as subclinical hypothyroidism.
TSHFree T4Free T3Interpretation
HighLowLow or normalPrimary hypothyroidism
LowLow or normalLow or normalSecondary hypothyroidism
HighNormalNormalSubclinical hypothyroidism