I have a thyroid nodule - what happens now?
First, it is important to rule out a malignant nodule. Benign nodules do not necessarily have to be treated. As soon as you suffer from symptoms which require treatment, it makes sense to consider radiofrequency ablation.
How does Thermal Ablation work?
The thyroid nodule is heated by precise application of radiofrequency energy. The tissue thermally deactivated by these means is resorbed by the body automatically in the weeks and months following treatment.
Is the procedure painful?
You may briefly experience mild pain during ablation itself; this may extend as far as the jaw. There is no need for painkillers after the RFA procedure.
What outcome can I expect?
Thermal ablation alleviates the symptoms caused by the nodule. The volume of the nodule is reduced by about 50% in the first three months following treatment. The remaining thyroid tissue remains functional and it is not usually necessary to medicate with thyroid hormones. There is generally no scarring.
Does the treatment have potential complications?
The likelihood of complications is minimal. Bruising may occur. In exceptional cases, there may be temporary hoarseness or infections. The risk of scarring is minimal.
What is important after the procedure?
You should avoid strenuous physical exercise in the days following the treatment. You should also avoid overextending the throat in the first few days after the RFA in order to support the healing process. Otherwise, there are no restrictions on your usual daily routine.
Photos by kind permission of Prof. Dr. Dr. Korkusuz, Deutsches Zentrum für Thermoablation von Schilddrüsenknoten e.V., Frankfurt a.M., Germany