Purpose: Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is an approved minimal invasive method for the treatment of benign thyroid nodules. Several experimental, mainly ex vivo animal studies have compared the effectiveness of different RFA procedures in liver tissue. The aim of this retrospective clinical study was to evaluate the difference between monopolar and bipolar RFA in thyroid tissue considering thyroid volume reduction, patient discomfort and ultrasound evaluation.
Methods: Eighteen patients with symptomatic complex benign thyroid nodules were treated in a single RFA session. Nine patients were treated with monopolar RFA, and nine other patients were treated with bipolar RFA. All patients underwent assessments before therapy and at 3-month follow-up (3MFU) including a complete hormone status (T3, T4, TSH, TG, TPOAb, TgAb, TRAb) and several ultrasound (US) evaluations using B-mode and color-coded Doppler imaging. The US evaluations contained measurement of volume, US Doppler, US echogenicity and US elastography. Additionally, applied energy (kJ), power output (W), number of shots (N) and total treatment time (s) were recorded in every case.
Results: Monopolar RFA resulted in a significant (p < 0.05) average thyroid volume reduction of Ø 18 ± 77 ml (25.1 ± 103%) and a nodule volume reduction of Ø 10.6 ± 22 ml (60.3 ± 62%). Bipolar RFA resulted in a significant (p < 0.05) average thyroid volume reduction of Ø 21.2 ± 54 ml (43.2 ± 84%) and a nodule volume reduction of Ø 13.8 ± 33 ml (70.8 ± 46%). Both groups showed equal results concerning volume reduction (p > 0.05). Monopolar RFA did not lead to any significant changes concerning the US scores, whereas bipolar RFA led to a significant (p < 0.05) reduction in US Doppler and nodular blood flow. No significant difference between both groups could be found concerning applied energy, treatment time, power output and number of shots (p > 0.05).
Conclusion: Bipolar RFA did not show any disadvantages in comparison with monopolar RFA in the treatment of benign thyroid nodules. It shows better performance in terms of volume reduction and is superior when it comes to feasibility and patient discomfort. The recent study confirms the good ex vivo results for bipolar RFA.
Keywords: Benign Thyroid Nodule; Bipolar Group; Percutaneous Ethanol Injection Therapy; Radio Frequency Ablation; Thyroid Nodule.