Benign predominantly solid thyroid nodules: prospective study of efficacy of sonographically guided radiofrequency ablation versus control condition

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2010 Apr;194(4):1137-42. doi: 10.2214/AJR.09.3372.


Objective: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of radiofrequency ablation of benign predominantly solid thyroid nodules by comparing the findings in treatment and control groups.

Subjects and methods: Thirty patients with normal thyroid function, each with a benign predominantly (> 50%) solid thyroid nodule causing pressure symptoms or cosmetic problems, were assigned to a control group (n = 15) or to a group undergoing a single session of radiofrequency ablation (n = 15). Thyroid nodule volume, thyroid function, pressure symptoms, and cosmetic concerns were evaluated before treatment and during follow-up. Sonographically guided radiofrequency ablation was performed with an internally cooled electrode (1-cm active tip) with an output power of 30-80 W.

Results: The control group had no resolution of symptoms or cosmetic problems. The mean nodule volume increased slightly after 6 months but without statistical significance (p = 0.46). In the radiofrequency ablation group, the mean symptom score (p = 0.001) and cosmetic grade (p = 0.001) improved significantly. Mean nodule volume decreased significantly from 7.5 +/- 4.9 mL (range, 1.7-20.0 mL) to 1.3 +/- 0.8 mL (range, 0.2-2.6 mL) 6 months after radiofrequency ablation (p = 0.001). There were no major complications of ablation.

Conclusion: This study confirmed that radiofrequency ablation is effective for reducing nodule volume and relieving nodule-related clinical problems and that an effect due to spontaneous nodule reduction can be excluded owing to the results of the comparison with a similar control group.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biopsy
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Catheter Ablation*
  • Esthetics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Thyroid Function Tests
  • Thyroid Nodule / diagnostic imaging
  • Thyroid Nodule / surgery*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ultrasonography, Interventional*