4 Things You Should Know About Radiofrequency Ablation Treatment for the Thyroid


Radiofrequency ablation, also known as RFA, is a non-invasive treatment option for benign thyroid nodules. Here are four things you should know about RFA treatment for the thyroid.

1. Benefits

Not only is RFA non-invasive but it also provides several other benefits. RFA doesn’t cause scarring and recovery time is relatively short. It preserves your thyroid’s function and healthy tissue. It’s a short, outpatient procedure that doesn’t require general anesthesia. Endocrinologists recommend RFA to shrink benign nodules because it has a relatively high success rate and a relatively low risk of complications.

2. Procedure And Recovery

The procedure consists of inserting a needle probe into the nodule and conducting radiofrequency waves through it to kill the nodule cells and shrink the nodule. Ultrasound is used to guide the needle and you may receive local anesthesia and mild sedation. Because RFA is typically an outpatient procedure, you should try to see a local doctor for treatment. For example, if you live in Michigan, look for an endocrinologist in Michigan. Recovery typically involves taking over-the-counter NSAIDs for mild bruising and discomfort.

3. Types of Nodules It Can Treat

The majority of thyroid nodules RFA can be used on are benign. Your nodule must also meet several other requirements for you to be considered a candidate for RFA. You must be considered a candidate for surgery and your nodule must be fully or partially solid. The nodule must also be causing provable toxicity or cosmetic issues. You need to receive at least two biopsies to prove a nodule is benign. your endocrinologist may also order scans to ensure the nodule is far enough away from vulnerable tissue that RFA won’t damage those tissues.

4. Risks

There is a relatively low level of risk related to RFA treatment, but risk levels are still under evaluation due to the treatment being less established than traditional nodule treatment methods. Potential complications are similar to surgical complications. They include damage to surrounding tissues, bleeding, vocal hoarseness, vocal cord paralysis, and infection. An uncommon but documented risk related to RFA is a temporary or permanent change to a patient’s voice. Like other thyroid nodule treatments, there is a low risk of nodule regrowth or reoccurrence.

RFA and other non-invasive treatments are useful due to their relatively low risks compared to more invasive treatments such as surgery and radiation therapy. However, it isn’t always the right treatment for a thyroid nodule. Talk to your doctor about whether you’re a suitable candidate for RFA.


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