New methods like Thyroid Radio Frequency Ablation occasionally emerge which provide greater efficacy, efficiency, and safety. Radiofrequency thyroid ablation is a technique with 20 years of research behind it.
It has only recently ballooned in popularity. This is in part due to a decrease in the cost of the equipment required to perform the therapy.
In addition, newer studies in the last few years have confirmed what has long been a mere hypothesis — RFA is safe, effective, fast, and appropriate for treating abnormal thyroid nodules.
In this post, we will discuss what RFA is, how it’s performed, and the benefits of this promising thermal therapy.
RFA is a type of thermal ablation. It involves ablating thyroid nodules using a radio frequency generator and an electrode needle. Head and neck surgeons, endocrinologists, general surgeons, and other physicians can perform RFA.
Radio frequency thyroid ablation should be used on thyroid nodules, which must be reduced in volume. This type of ablation can be used on toxic thyroid nodules, pre-toxic thyroid nodules, hot nodules, and cold nodules.
Radiofrequency ablation is also effective for treating a variety of other tissue disorders in the kidney, lungs, and beyond.
Ablation of enlarged thyroid nodules is a multi-step process:
Step one: the doctor applies local anesthesia to the patient’s neck.
Step two: using a handheld ultrasound probe, the doctor monitors the patient’s thyroid using a separate doppler ultrasound screen.
Step three: penetrate the patient’s skin with the electrode needle.
Step four: extend the electrode into the thyroid nodule that needs to be treated.
Step five: use a moving shot technique. This refers to moving the electrode back and forth continuously, using slow motions.
Step six: using slow motions, the physician ablates the excess thyroid tissue layer by layer.
Step seven: remove the thyroid nodule. Place and sanitize the small puncture wound and place ice on the neck.
Step eight: the patient is discharged in under half an hour. At this point, the physician should schedule follow-ups with the patient in one-month, three months, six months, and 12-month increments.
The patient’s thyroid nodule should shrink on its own during the recovery period as the body processes and disposes of the excess tissue.
Distinct advantages of using radiofrequency ablation include:
The first type of thyroid frequency ablation is a relatively fast procedure. Typically it takes a physician anywhere from 15 to 40 minutes to perform it from beginning to end. The larger the thyroid nodule volume, the longer it will take.
When compared with other thyroid treatments, this extends significant time savings to medical care practitioners. For instance, HIFU ablation can take anywhere between 45 to 60 minutes.
Over the long term, the recurrence of excess thyroid volume is very low. Therefore, patients can expect to see improved thyroid shrinkage over 6 months, 12 months, and 24 months without regrowth.
From the medical provider’s perspective, radiofrequency ablation provides more than just effective thyroid nodule volume reduction.
It also offers cost savings. The radiofrequency ablation machine typically costs between $15,000 and $25,000.
When compared with microwave ablation ($20,000 minimum) laser ablation machines ($30,000 minimum) and especially HIFU machines ($250,000 minimum), the cost-benefit analysis is obvious.
As opposed to surgery and other procedures, radiofrequency ablation is much more convenient for the patient. It is an outpatient therapy, which allows the patient to go home on their own after 30 minutes of undergoing RFA.
Thyroidectomies and other invasive surgeries leave unsightly scars on the patient’s neck. There is no scarring as a result of RFA. A tiny puncture wound from the electrode needle quickly heals.
Radiofrequency ablation for hypothyroidism is incredibly safe compared to other procedures. It offers a low risk of hospitalization, regrowth, and major complications.
Over the years, medical studies have demonstrated that thyroid radiofrequency ablation is the new standard for achieving volume reduction of thyroid nodules.
Listing every study would be beyond the scope of this article, but some notable findings are:
This 2021 review found that RFA results in a significant reduction in thyroid nodule size as well as reducing clinical symptoms.
A 2020 article in the European Thyroid Journal confirmed that over 20 years, there is no clinical evidence that thermal ablation techniques allow thyroid neoplasia regrowth. It also suggests that thermal ablation is more effective than ethanol ablation.
A large-scale study of over 1,500 thyroid nodules observed only a 0.2% permanent side effect ratio from radio frequency thermal ablation. Thus, while 3.3% of patients experienced complications, 99.8% of them fully recovered.
The National Library of Medicine published a study in which radiofrequency thermal ablation reduced thyroid size over the long term. Patients who were reviewed after 24 months still enjoyed a 79.4% reduction in VRR.
Additionally, every single patient in the study improved their compressive symptoms.
And 100% of patients with pre-toxic thyroid nodules no longer had hypothyroidism or needed to use methimazole therapy. It is also important to note that zero major complications occurred and zero hospitalizations were required.
It is important to have the proper equipment for administering radio frequency ablation. First, you need an ultrasound machine with a display screen.
The eCube7i7 is an excellent imaging system. It allows you to safely perform thermal ablation. Furthermore, you need to have a power source for the radiofrequency ablation.
RF Medical offers an excellent machine for this called the Mygen V-1000 generator.
Reach out to RGS Healthcare to learn more about this powerful tool. Its algorithmic programming protocols automatically create the right level of radiofrequency power.
That way the physician can focus on ablating with precision and not adjusting radiofrequency levels.
RGS Healthcare prides itself on staying on the cutting edge of medical equipment. Our physicians and clients enjoy the state-of-the-art technology, training, and support.
Whether you need to learn more about Thyroid Radio Frequency Ablation technique, acquire the right equipment, or simply understand your options more fully — contact RGS Healthcare today. Let’s promote better health together.