When you go to the doctor and s/he checks to see if your metabolism might be causing your symptoms, your doctor usually checks your TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone).  If your TSH is in the normal range your doctor is likely to conclude that “Your thyroid is fine.”  Typically, that means your doctor feels your metabolism is fine and can’t be the explanation for any of your symptoms and you won’t benefit from thyroid treatment.  However, that’s not the automatic conclusion recommended by the creator of the TSH test.

Robert D. Utiger, MD was a pioneering doctor in the field of endocrinology.  His life was largely devoted to academic medicine and research.  He was director of the General Clinical Research Center at the University of North Carolina and later was a Clinical Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

In 1965 he published the landmark article: “Radioimmunoassay of Human Plasma Thyrotropin”.  Thyrotropin is another name for TSH.  This study kicked off the use of the TSH test as a useful tool to help evaluate thyroid dysfunction. It is one of the most widely ordered tests in all of medicine today.

Dr. Utiger,

  • developed the test for TSH
  • developed the test for T3
  • helped discover the importance of T4 to T3 conversion
  • awarded the Distinguished Service Award from the American Thyroid Association (ATA)
  • became the Editor-in-Chief of the journal of the ATA

Interestingly, with all his background in research on thyroid hormones and thyroid tests he said he hoped that doctors will still practice medicine and treat the patient not the TSH.  He said that still the best test is evaluating body temperature and heart rate and a therapeutic trial of T3.

He felt that the best way to tell if someone’s metabolism might be causing his/her symptoms is to measure the body temperature and consider trying him/her on a test of T3.