What is Interventional Endocrinology?

Interventional endocrinology is an innovative field that treats various endocrine diseases by using image-guided procedures through the skin. This method uses less invasive techniques such as a simple needlestick instead of the typical surgeries which often treat these conditions. Ultrasound-guided radiofrequency ablation, or RFA, is an interventional endocrinology method used to treat specific types of benign thyroid nodules and in some cases lymph nodes with recurrent cancer.

What is Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) of Thyroid Nodules?

RFA procedure is a minimally-invasive technique performed by an endocrine surgeon guided by ultrasound imaging. It delivers targeted radio waves that disrupt the nodule’s cells, causing them to shrink as the body absorbs the ablated tissue. Radiofrequency ablation uses a tiny needle that creates precise radio waves that heat up and destroy a small area of tissue.

RFA is frequently used to treat lesions in the following:

  • Liver
  • Lung
  • Kidney
  • Breast
  • Spine
  • Colon
  • Prostate
  • Bone
  • Thyroid

Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) of thyroid tissue has been performed since 2002 and is most effective for recurrent thyroid cancer when surgery is not ideal or for symptomatic benign thyroid nodules. Ultrasound-guided radiofrequency ablation provides a safe and effective alternative when surgery is not a perfect choice.

Treatments significantly reduce the need for nodule surgery and Radioactive Iodine (RAI) use. the RFA procedure is minimally invasive and a safe and relatively quick treatment option. RFA also enables patients to resume regular daily activity with minimal recovery time.

How does Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) of Thyroid Nodules work?

RFA reduces the size of thyroid nodules by using a safe, alternating electric current which disrupts tissue ions as they follow this current, creating frictional heat around the electrode. This heat affects the immediate tissue and ablates the target tissue.

About half an hour before the procedure, you are given a low-dose sedative to help you relax. Additionally, a local anesthetic is applied externally to the treatment area around the thyroid gland. You can usually expect to go home about 30-45 minutes after the procedure, and any post-treatment discomfort is easily managed with a pain reliever such as acetaminophen. There are no restrictions after the procedure except to avoid heavy lifting for the day, and patients can resume other normal activities the same day of their procedure.

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What are the benefits of Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) of Thyroid Nodules?

While traditional surgery may involve removing part of the thyroid, RFA maintains thyroid integrity, which supports improved thyroid function. This is one of the most significant advantages of radiofrequency ablation of thyroid nodules.

RFA for benign thyroid nodules typically produces a reduction in nodule size by 50-90% within the first six months to one year. In most patients, nodule-related symptoms were significantly improved or had disappeared, making this another significant benefit to RFA.

Benefits of RFA include the procedure:

  • Is minimally invasive
  • Preserves healthy thyroid tissue and allows it to function normally, eliminating the need for lifetime medication
  • Is performed under local anesthesia as an out-patient procedure, meaning there is no downtime or hospitalization
  • Has a shorter recovery time compared to surgical procedures
  • Leaves no visible scarring
  • Reduced the volume of the nodule with a low complication rate
  • Improves your overall quality of life

Meet Your Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) of Thyroid Nodules Procedure Practitioner Dr. Ryan Neilan MD, MBA, FACS, FARS

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Am I a good candidate for Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) of Thyroid Nodules?

Any patient with a benign nodule who is a candidate for surgery is likely a good candidate for RFA. If you have symptoms or cosmetic issues caused by a growing nodule, or you have a nodule that makes too much thyroid hormone, you would be a good candidate for radiofrequency ablation (RFA) of thyroid nodules. Additionally, patients who cannot safely have surgery, such as those who cannot go under anesthesia, should also consider RFA of thyroid nodules.

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What results will I get with Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) of Thyroid Nodules?

Patients can expect their nodules to shrink by 50%-90% and get maximum shrinkage within the first four weeks after RFA. The nodule will continue to shrink over the following six months to a year, and your symptoms will also continue to decline.

Your endocrinologist will monitor your progress using ultrasound, even though the chances of the nodule growing back are very low. If the nodule does grow back, the treatment can be repeated, or you can choose surgery. Patients with a toxic hormone-producing thyroid nodule can expect similar results for thyroid function, such as normalizing blood-hormone levels.

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Why choose Texas ENT Specialists for Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) of Thyroid Nodules?

With the specialized knowledge of our providers at Texas ENT Specialists, we work with you to determine the cause of your issues within the head and neck and determine the best course of treatment. Dr. Neilan, who will perform your RFA procedure, is a distinguished and experienced head and neck surgeon who utilizes the latest medical techniques to help you achieve the best possible outcome.

Our providers significantly understand the thyroid glands and how to treat them effectively. Texas ENT Specialists ensure that your treatment is uniquely tailored to your needs and lifestyle to make your experience as smooth and pleasant as possible. And with fifteen locations around the greater Houston area, you’re never far away from the care and treatment you deserve.

With 15 convenient locations across the greater Houston area, we’re never far away.

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