Microwave ablation

For the first time, a combination of Microwave Ablation and radioiodine therapy has been used for the treatment of simultaneously existing hot and cold thyroid nodules in the Department for Nuclear Medicine at Frankfurt University Hospital.

About 100.000 thyroid surgeries are conducted each year. In most cases, a nodular goiter (a nodular enlargement of the thyroid) is found with both hot and cold nodules at the same time. Hot thyroid nodules are good-natured lumps which can be treated with the already established radioiodine therapy. Unlike cold nodules, that can be ill-natured and therefore are normally removed surgically. In August 2012, Microwave Ablation was performed for the first time in Europe at the Department for Nuclear Medicine (Director Prof. Frank Gruenwald) at the Frankfurt University Hospital. Since then, Microwave Ablation has been established in Frankfurt. Now the clinic has treated a patient showing both a hot and a cold nodule with a combination of Microwave Ablation and radioiodine therapy for the first time worldwide. In comparison to common techniques, this new combination therapy is considerably safer and more comfortable.

The Microwave Ablation of the cold nodule with subsequent radioiodine therapy of the hot nodule was performed on a 52 year old patient for the first time. No surgery is necessary for any of both methods. During Microwave Ablation, a probe is inserted into the skin under local anaesthesia. The probe helps to guide the microwaves directly into the thyroid nodule. The diseased cells are heated by the waves and the treated thyroid tissue is removed by the body. The thyroid nodule will shrink within a short time. The treatment is monitored and controlled by means of real-time ultrasound pictures. The intervention lasts ten to 15 minutes, depending on nodule size and number. Microwave Ablation is normally conducted on an out-patient basis. The cosmetic results are excellent, as a thin needle is used. For the following radioiodine therapy of the hot nodule radioactive iodine was given to the patient in a capsule. The rays cause cell death inside the lump and the nodule is removed without harming surrounding tissue. The treatment is very safe and has few side effects. An in-patient stay of a few days is necessary for radioiodine therapy and therefore also for the combination therapy.

Radioiodine therapy and microwave ablation are both non-surgical methods. Therefore a major advantage lies in the fact that risks of a surgery and the required general anaesthesia are avoided completely. This is especially important for patients with pre-existing conditions of for example the cardiovascular system, who have an increased risk during surgery.

„The patient noticed that a visit at the dentist is more uncomfortable than this treatment. We are glad to offer our patients this particularly safe combination therapy as one of the first clinics at all“

says PD Dr. Dr. Huedayi Korkusuz, specialist for radiology at the Department of Nuclear Medicine who performed the first treatment.