Why Thyroid RFA Is Better Than Surgery

Why Thyroid RFA Is Better Than Surgery

Thyroid nodules are very common and may affect up to 50% of people, but most are unaware of the growth. Of those thyroid nodules that are identified, about 90% are clinically insignificant benign lesions.

That leaves a small number of problematic thyroid nodules — those that are large enough to pose functional or cosmetic issues — once predominantly removed surgically. Today, Dr. Sean P. Nikravan is a big proponent of thyroid radiofrequency ablation (RFA) for removing benign thyroid nodules as this approach offers many benefits over surgery, which we review here.

Thyroid RFA is minimally invasive

With thyroid RFA, we insert a thin probe into your thyroid nodule, through which we deliver radiofrequency energy (electrical current) to destroy the problematic tissue. This means we’re not making any incisions in your neck to gain access to your nodule.

Local anesthesia

Because we’re not resorting to open surgery to remove your thyroid nodule, we only use a local anesthetic in the area where we insert the probe. This means we perform your thyroid RFA in very little time, right here in our office, and you’re free to return home afterward.

Faster recovery

There are no incisions with a thyroid RFA, so your healing and recovery time is greatly reduced. Our patients can get back to their regular activities the very next day and back to strenuous exercise after three days. With surgery, you’re looking at days, if not weeks, of recovery time.

No scarring

Another benefit of thyroid RFA is that you won’t have any scarring after the procedure. Surgery requires an incision, which does leave a scar after it heals.

Fewer complications

With thyroid RFA, the post-procedural complication rate is far less than with surgery — 6% versus 1%, according to a study published in the American Journal of Neuroradiology in 2015.

No medications

When a surgeon removes a thyroid nodule, there’s a chance that the removal can lead to hypothyroidism if too much collateral tissue is removed. When this occurs, the patient needs thyroid replacement hormones.

In fact, in the same American Journal of Neuroradiology study we cite above, hypothyroidism occurred in 71.5% of surgical patients versus zero patients who had the thyroid nodule removed through RFA. 

With thyroid RFA, we can greatly reduce any collateral thyroid tissue damage because we deliver the RF technology with precision. This precision allows us to better meet our goal of eliminating the risk of hypothyroidism and your future dependence on hormone replacement medications.

A solution that goes the distance

Thyroid RFA allows us to quickly and easily reduce the size of your problematic nodule, and the results last. One analysis found volume reduction rates that ranged between 77% and 81% after five years. This means thyroid nodule regrowth rates are very low after thyroid RFA.

As you can see, there are many reasons why we’re so excited about the thyroid RFA procedure as a superior alternative to surgery. If you’d like to find out whether you’re a candidate for thyroid RFA, please contact our office in Newport Beach, California, to set up a consultation.

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