Radiofrequency ablation in the treatment of benign thyroid nodules

Dr. Behrooz Salehi und Dr.Prof. Dr. Dr. Huedayi Korkusuz

The thyroid gland is located in the front of the neck under the larynx and produces important hormones (T3, T4) for metabolism and growth, also the peptide hormone calcitonin for the calcium metabolism.

A thyroid nodule (in an early stage) often is painless and clinically unsuspicious, therefore about 50% of the thyroid cancer is discovered only by chance, the other 50% unfortunately remain “hidden”.

Later, other symptoms appear, such as:

  • difficulties in swallowing
  • foreign body sensation in the throat
  • hoarseness
  • lymph node enlargement

In case of such discomforts or signs of a thyroid hyperfunction:

  • high pulse or blood pressure
  • quick feeling of heat or rapid sweating
  • shiver
  • diffuse hair loss
  • unrest, irritability, sleep disturbances
  • increased stool frequency or diarrhoea
  • weight loss without any change of the nutritional behaviour, periods of ravenous hunger)

you should have your thyroid examined to possibly detect and treat a nodule early enough.

The radiofrequency ablation is an efficient and safe alternative to surgery (Cervelli et al., 2017). The advantages of this method are perfectly obvious:

  • no incision/scar
  • no risk of bleeding
  • no damage of close-by nerves. 

A tube is inserted under local anaesthesia, through which alternating current is directed into the nodule via a radiofrequency generator. This leads to an increase in temperature and destroys the thyroid nodule gently by heat build-up. The so treated tissue is deteriorated by the body itself over time.

Usually such an ambulant ablation (without the need of an in-patient stay) takes only about 10-15 minutes.

Cervelli, R., Mazzeo, S., De Napoli, L., Boccuzzi, A., Pontillo-Contillo, B., Materazzi, G., … Caramella, D. (2017). Radiofrequency Ablation in the Treatment of Benign Thyroid Nodules: An Efficient and Safe Alternative to Surgery. Journal of Vascular and Interventional Radiology : JVIR, 28(10), 1400–1408.

Further literature:

Radiofrequency Ablation in the Treatment of Benign Thyroid Nodules: An Efficient and Safe Alternative to Surgery 

Treatment of Benign Thyroid Nodules: Comparison of Surgery with Radiofrequency Ablation

Safety of Radiofrequency Ablation of Benign Thyroid Nodules and Recurrent Thyroid Cancers: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis ´

Thyroid Radiofrequency Ablation: Updates on Innovative Devices and Techniques 

Update on the role of ultrasound guided radiofrequency ablation for thyroid nodule treatment 

Die Thermoablation von Schilddrüsenknoten als alternative Behandlungsmethode zur Schilddrüsenoperation und als alternative Behandlungsform zur Radiojodtherapie.
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