Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA)
Non-Surgical Treatment for Thyroid Nodules
Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a procedure that involves using focused heat from a probe to shrink the size of a thyroid growth. RFA provides a more minimally-invasive option to removing the nodule and part of the thyroid gland with surgery. Primarily used for thyroid nodules, the technique also treats small cancer recurrences.
How does RFA work?
During RFA of a thyroid nodule, an ultrasound is used to obtain an image inside the thyroid and neck in order to guide the placement of an electric probe. The probe generates high-frequency radio waves, which create heat. The focused temperature ablates the tissue and reduces the nodule’s size.
Normal thyroid tissue is preserved while nodules shrink over time on average by 80% of their original size. Unlike surgery where general anesthesia is required, this procedure only requires local anesthetic and is a same-day procedure. Treatment times range from 15 minutes to an hour.
RFA is indicated for benign thyroid nodules. It is not however indicated for thyroid cancer or nodules suspicious for cancer where surgery is the recommended treatment. Symptoms that may determine if RFA is an appropriate treatment option for you include:
- Large multinodular goiters that continue to grow in size
- Nodules that are causing compressive symptoms (difficulty swallowing, voice change, difficulty breathing, foreign body sensation in the neck, etc.)
- Toxic nodules (overfunctioning), causing hyperthyroidism
- Nodules causing cosmetic concerns due to their size
- If a doctor has recommended surgery for your treatment, and you are not a surgical candidate, or would prefer to avoid surgery
Meet Our Team
Our radiofrequency ablation clinic is a joint program launched by experts from the Thyroid and Parathyroid Endocrine Surgery Division and Department of Radiology.