By 60, almost half of all Americans will have thyroid nodules. The thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland at the base of your neck, can develop solid or fluid-filled lumps called nodules. Although thyroid nodules are frequently benign, patients may face a tough decision if they become large enough to press on neck structures and produce discomfort. Suffer from the symptoms or have surgery to remove all or part of the thyroid, which involves general anesthesia, incisions, and possibly lifetime thyroid hormone supplementation.
Radiofrequency ablation shrinks nodules on the inside by using heat. The procedure involves no surgery, permanent scars, or hormone therapy. A needle-like probe is inserted into the thyroid nodule during RFA for thyroid nodules. The nodule shrinks as the needle’s tip heats up and causes internal destruction. With significant research and point-of-care application in Asia, Europe, and South America, the therapy has been demonstrated to be a reliable and safe treatment for benign thyroid nodules. According to data from a survey study, patients in the U.S. saw a 50% improvement in their appearance (including a reduction in neck bulging) and the cessation of other annoying symptoms 10 weeks after receiving RFA.
A minimally invasive procedure known as radiofrequency ablation, or RFA, reduces the size of the body’s tumors, nodules, and other growths. A group of endocrinologists performs radiofrequency ablation as a treatment for thyroid nodules. RFA employs radio waves to generate heat that shrinks thyroid nodules by heating them. It is less intrusive than surgery or radioactive iodine therapy (RAI). RFA is a secure method of treating patients with symptomatic thyroid nodules.
Many illnesses, such as nerve discomfort, some varieties of cancer, uterine fibroids, and various vascular problems, have all benefited from using RFA technology. In 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized this technique for benign thyroid nodules.
Using an electrode with a high-frequency alternating current, radiofrequency ablation (RFA) causes thermal ablation (burns) in soft tissue, which causes cell death and causes the afflicted area to shrink.
The procedure involves no surgery, permanent scars, or hormone therapy.
Ablation of the thyroid doesn’t require general anesthesia, but your doctor will numb the area where they implant the probe with a local anesthetic. You can return to regular activities after 24 to 48 hours and leave home the same day. You typically don’t need to take thyroid replacement therapy following RFA because it doesn’t affect your thyroid gland’s functions. Bruising, swelling, and pain are common minor side effects following RFA. However, they usually go away within a few days.
Most thyroid nodules (around 90%) are benign (benign). Large thyroid nodules, however, might result in uncomfortable symptoms, such as
By shrinking thyroid nodules without surgery, radiofrequency ablation can aid in the relief of these symptoms.
Doctors most frequently use RFA to treat benign thyroid nodules. The doctor can occasionally use it to cure malignant thyroid tumors. If you have a significant likelihood of complications from surgery because of additional medical issues or prior surgery, for instance, RFA may be an option. Small thyroid malignancies that have not progressed outside the thyroid gland can also be treated with it. Your doctor will advise you on the best course of action if you have a thyroid tumor.
You can choose mild to moderate sedation (IV medication) during the treatment, which will help you stay relaxed, comfortable, and coherent. The surgery is carried out under local anesthetic. To make sure your vocal cords are not harmed, it’s crucial to communicate with your endocrinologist throughout the process.
Under ultrasound supervision, the doctor will pass a tiny needle through the skin into the nodule. We employ a parallel technique, which lowers the chance of complications by allowing us to see the whole needle during the surgery. We carry out hundreds of fine needle aspiration (FNA) biopsies of benign cysts in our clinic each year without any issues, and we employ the same procedure for doing so.
The generator the needle is connected to uses electricity to produce heat near the needle’s tip. A nodule will be ablated (burned) from the inside by the doctor moving the needle back and forth into the nodule. It won’t impact the healthy thyroid tissue. With time, the ablated tissue will transform into scar tissue, which will start the nodule shrinking.
You can relax after the treatment while the medication wears off. Most people can return home that same day. You’ll need to make transportation arrangements.
According to studies, patients can anticipate a nodule reduction of 97% to roughly 50%.
Most patients have their greatest shrinking within the first four weeks following RFA. The nodule will keep getting smaller throughout six to twelve months. The nodule will get smaller as the symptoms get better.
Using ultrasound, your endocrinologist will keep track of your development. The likelihood of the nodule returning is extremely unlikely, although possible. You have two options in that scenario: repeat the treatment, or choose surgery.
Compared to surgery or RAI, RFA better protects the thyroid’s other parts. RFA thus reduces the likelihood of becoming permanently ill with primary hypothyroidism (decreased thyroid hormone). Recovery is far quicker than surgery, and you can also prevent surgical scars.
Every procedure carries a certain amount of risk, which your doctor will discuss. With less than 0.1% of patients experiencing persistent complications, thyroid RFA is a safe therapy.
Cryo (freezing), laser, and ethanol ablation are three minimally invasive techniques for tissue destruction. RFA is thought to be superior to various other forms of treatment for thyroid nodules that are solid or complicated. A good alternative for the majority of cystic nodules (nodules packed with fluid) is ethanol ablation.
RFA complications are less common than surgical complications but are nonetheless comparable. Temporary vocal cord paralysis, bleeding, hoarseness, infection, and harm to the neck’s supporting tissues are among the risks.
Check out our patient animation video that takes you through every step of the thyroid rfa journey. Topics covered include:
• What is Thyroid Radiofrequency Ablation
• Moving shot technique explained
• Tips for Thyroid RFA Treatment
• Advantages of Thyroid Radio Frequency Ablation