You may have heard about thyroid radio frequency ablation. It is quickly becoming a popular alternative for treating benign thyroid nodules. This revolutionary procedure offers several advantages over traditional approaches.
RFA is non-surgical, minimally invasive, and safe. If performed properly, physicians can resolve hyperthyroidism and other abnormal thyroid conditions for patients. Additionally it can be used instead of procedures like microwave ablation, thyroidectomies, high-intensity focused ultrasound ablation( HIFU) and more.
Continue reading to learn the various ways in which thyroid ablation helps to control thyroid symptoms.
Radiofrequency thermal ablation involves destroying excess thyroid nodule tissue via ablation or heat. This is an outpatient procedure. This means the patient does not have to go under general anesthetic. In fact, a simple local anesthetic shot prepares the patient for this 20-minute procedure.
A radiofrequency generator creates an electric charge that is delivered via an electric probe. The electrode probe is placed into the nodule, at which point the doctor ablates each part of the excess thyroid nodule methodically.
The hyper localized heat destroys the toxic or unwanted tissue while protecting the surrounding tissues. It is an excellent alternative to invasive surgery and other types of ablation.
The process of radio frequency thyroid ablation is fairly straightforward. The process begins with identifying the patient’s thyroid nodule using a handheld ultrasound device. This is then displayed on an imaging system.
Next, the physician uses an electrode probe to pierce the patient’s skin and subsequently the thyroid nodule. From here, the electrode probe, which is attached to a radio frequency generator, is correctly positioned by the doctor. The doctor then begins ablating the thyroid nodule, moving it slowly and steadily forwards to backwards.
The doctor repeats this for each plane of the thyroid nodule, using the probe and imaging screen to ensure that no part of the patient’s thyroid nodule is left unablated. This is referred to as a moving shot technique. The slow, steady movements promote safety while ensuring precision.
RFA has been demonstrated to provide significant benefits in several clinical studies. While we cannot fully encapsulate all of the clinical evidence in this article, here are some of the highlights of the research that’s been done over the past 20 years.
Radiofrequency ablation provides preferable cosmetic results when measured against invasive surgery and other procedures.
Patients were given a higher cosmetic score every single time with radiofrequency ablation compared to those who did not receive a therapy. This data comes from a 2015 study in the Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism.
An important factor to consider with any thyroid treatment is safety from risk and complications. Invasive surgeries can damage surrounding structures and other types of ablation can cause complications.
However, RF thermal ablation promises to minimize risks. Not only does thyroid ablation reduce volume by 69%, it’s also safer. A study demonstrated that thyroid volume reduces compressive symptoms.
This increases comfort for the patient over time. 88% of patients’ compressive symptoms were completely gone after a follow-up survey. In addition, 100% of recipients of RFA that had pre-toxic thyroid nodules were able to stop their methimazole therapy.
79% of those patients were free of hyperthyroidism after the therapy. But getting back to the point of complications, the study found that there were zero hospitalizations after thermal ablation.
When you contrast this data with invasive surgeries like thyroidectomy, the cost benefit analysis of complications is as clear as day.
It’s better for patients and medical centers to perform outpatient procedures than surgeries that require overnight stays. The Clinical Journal of the Society for Endocrinology and the Endocrine Society of Australia conducted a 2017 study.
They found that toxic nodule shrinkage was persistent with RFA. They also found that it improved local symptoms without complications or hospitalization.
A clinical trial looked at over 1500 nodules that received radiofrequency ablation. In that study, 99.8% of patients recovered from their complications. Of those complications however, only 3.3% of them were major.
To be more specific, only one patient still had hypothyroidism afterwards and the other patient with complications had a surgery done. With those kinds of odds, it’s clear to understand why the risk benefit analysis of thyroid thermal therapy is groundbreaking.
As with any medical procedure, using the right equipment is an important part of ensuring efficacy, reducing complications, and increasing efficiency. The recommended equipment for performing radiofrequency thyroid ablation is the following:
The two most important pieces of equipment for RFA therapy are the ultrasound imaging system and the RF generating machine.
RGS Healthcare provides both types of equipment. The E-Cube X70 is an imaging system for conducting thermal ablation. The high resolution LCD monitor enables doctors and surgeons to view the patient’s thyroid ablation throughout the entire procedure.
It allows for perfect placement of the electrode probe to ensure the most precise ablation.
The Mygen V1000 generator, produced by RF Medical provides the source of RF ablation. It has pre-programmed settings depending on the tissue that you’re treating.
For instance, there are specific algorithms for kidney, lung, and thyroid tissues. By using these automated settings, the doctor can focus on precision technique without worrying about adjusting the level of ablation. This enhances safety and provides peace of mind during the procedure.
Achieving VRR of thyroid nodules can be a difficult task. Thankfully, it no longer needs to be. With radiofrequency ablation, doctors now have the best and most effective method in their hands to treat thyroid patients.
Proper training and equipment is key. At RGS Healthcare, we can help you understand the right techniques to use and the right equipment to ensure safe, effective outcomes for thyroid patients. That way you can continue to change lives while minimizing risk.