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Dr. Richard Guttler

Understanding Thyroid Ablation: What You Need to Know

There are many ways to treat benign enlarged thyroid nodules, but thyroid radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is quickly gaining consensus as the best. It is seen as the safest and most precise way to reduce the volume reduction ratio (VRR) of abnormal thyroid nodules.

In this article we will discuss the clinical evidence for the efficacy of radiofrequency ablation, explain what RFA is and how doctors can properly perform this groundbreaking procedure.

Thyroid Radio Frequency Ablation – A New Era of Treatment

For two decades RFA has been used and studied in a variety of clinical applications. Notably, the use of RFA to treat thyroid nodules has been shown to be a low-risk non-surgical approach.


With radiofrequency ablation, doctors can provide patients with shorter recovery times and sustained reduction of thyroid nodule size.


RFA involves a simple local anesthetic, an electrode, and an ultrasound device for visibility. With this relatively minimal setup medical practitioners can ablate the patient’s thyroid nodule — cauterizing the tissue in a way that allows the body to break it down naturally and clear it from their system.


Clinical Evidence Supporting Radiofrequency Ablation To Treat Benign Thyroid Nodules


There is a growing body of evidence demonstrating RFA as a safe non-invasive therapy for thyroid conditions:


Reduction In Size And Fewer Symptoms


A 2015 study in the Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism performed a randomized control trial. The control group was given a placebo. Their thyroid nodule volume stayed the same while symptoms worsened over a six month testing period. 


The second group underwent RFA. On average, patients from the second group experienced a reduction in thyroid volume by 64.89% when studied six months after the fact. 


In addition, every single patient that underwent RFA noted improved cosmetic effects.


Clinical Evidence Comparing RF Ablation To Other Procedures


A 2020 study looked at the VRR of radiofrequency ablation and found that it was better than laser ablation. The numbers are as follows:


The VRR of RFA was 68% after six months compared to the VRR of laser therapy of just 48%. 


Additional benefits of RFA in this study are that it helped reduce compressive symptoms and also reduced cosmetic concerns. 

Radiofrequency Ablation Of The Thyroid Sustains Volume Reduction With Fewer Symptoms


A study in the National Library of Medicine studied patients who had undergone radioactive thermal ablation, aka RFA. It found that after 24 months, volume reduction was an average of 79.4%. 


This suggests that RFA is not just effective, but also long-lasting. Also of note are that compressive symptoms improved in every patient. In fact, compressive symptoms completely disappeared in 88% of patients. 


Furthermore, hypothyroidism was resolved in most patients who underwent RFA. This allowed them to stop methimazole therapy in 79% of overall patients and 100% of the patients who had pre-toxic thyroid nodules (TNs). 


Further demonstrating the safety of this procedure is the fact that the treatment was tolerated by every patient — with zero hospitalizations and zero major complications.

Thyroid RFA: A Safe Alternative To Surgery for Benign TNs

The Clinical Journal of the Society for Endocrinology and the Endocrine Society of Australia conducted clinical trials in 2017. They found that thermal therapies produced persistent shrinkage of thyroid nodules. 


They also noted an improvement of local symptoms, significant volume reduction that remained stable over several years, and a lower risk of complications compared to surgery in an outpatient context.

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An Outpatient Procedure With Minimal Setup

RFA requires no general anesthesia. Furthermore, patients are awake during the procedure and may leave right after (in under half an hour). This allows medical centers to reduce expenses while providing a more comfortable environment for their patients. 

Avoid Surgery Complications

As the studies have shown, RFA is a safe alternative to invasive surgery. Surgery should be reserved as a last resort. 

It not only requires more time and resources for medical professionals, it also increases the risk of complications both benign and fatal. 

If RFA is performed early enough on small thyroid nodules, the need for further procedures can be almost completely eliminated. Nodule growth and compression can be reduced for several years, avoiding cosmetic, functional, and growth issues. 

A Cutting-Edge Therapy 

Doctors who embrace RFA therapy can be the first ones to enjoy the benefits it brings to their practice and to their patients. Increasingly, those suffering from thyroid issues are looking for non-surgical, non-invasive methods to reclaim their quality of life. 

The doctors and medical centers who offer this outcome are likely to see growth in both the reputation and the financial health of their organization. 

What Is RFA Effective For? 

RFA is effective for thyroid nodules. It can treat both hot and cold nodules. Again, hypothyroidism has been shown to reduce in the majority of patients that undergo RFA. 

RF ablation thyroid treatment can be used in place of surgery, laser therapy, and radioactive iodine therapy. Radio active frequency therapy has been shown in a number of studies to treat other tissues effectively as well, including the lung and kidneys. 

Even myoma can be treated with RFA, offering life-transforming improvement in a short time period. 

Safely Performing RFA On The Thyroid

When it comes to thermal therapy, using an ultrasound machine is paramount. The E-Cube X70 or E-Cube I7 are two imaging systems that enable you to perform thermal ablation therapy with full visibility. 

A large LCD monitor displays the thyroid gland as well as the electrode tip you use to cauterize the nodules. The recommended machine for radiofrequency ablation is the Mygen V-1000 generator from RF Medical. 

It comes pre-programmed with algorithms designed for different procedures, ensuring you neither over-treat nor under-treat the patient. Precise ablation is crucial for any tissue that you are working on. 

RGS Healthcare offers in-depth training on the safe use of the V-1000 for thermal ablation. 

A Faster, Safer, Longer-Lasting Treatment For Thyroids

At RGS Healthcare, our mission is to empower doctors to provide the best care for their patients. No matter what your needs are, RGS Healthcare is dedicated to equipping you and your practice with the best imaging equipment available. 

Contact RGS Healthcare today and learn how the right technology can empower you to perform medicine at the highest level.