Removing thyroid nodules without scars. First Radiofrequency Ablation in Germany.
The Department of Nuclear Medicine at Frankfurt University Hospital was the first to use Radiofrequency Ablation against thyroid nodules. Thereby, the clinic can offer a range of thermal ablation treatment options that is unique in the world.
20 million people in Germany have thyroid nodules. The induced enlargement of the organ can lead to very uncomfortable symptoms: swallowing problems, tightness in the throat, feeling of pressure, hoarseness or a constant urge to clear the throat. About 90000 thyroid surgeries are performed in Germany each year for removal of these nodules. This is a very high value. Compared to the population, this rate is almost twice as high as in the US and approximately three times higher than in Great Britain. And every surgery involves risks. For example, the vocal cord can be injured due to its direct proximity to the larynx, and the voice can be affected permanently. Therefore, operations should only be performed if they are really necessary. The destruction of tissue through heat, the so-called thermal ablation, has been established as an alternative in various countries. About 7000 Radiofrequency Ablations are carried out instead of the common surgery. In Germany however, these techniques are not very popular. One of the most effective types of thermal ablation has not even been used so far: the Radiofrequency Ablation. The Department of Nuclear Medicine at Frankfurt University Hospital, under direction of Prof. Dr. Frank Gruenwald, has now applied RFA for treatment of thyroid nodules for the first time in Germany.
Most effective solution for a safe removal
With this, the clinic offers a range of thermal ablation treatment options for treatment of thyroid nodules that is unique in the world. These include Microwave Ablation, Laser Ablation and High Intensity Focused Ultrasound. The RFA is, compared with these other techniques, up to 70 % more economical with the same efficiency. Specialist PD Dr. Dr. Huedayi Korkusuz has realized the first RFA of thyroid nodules at the Department of Nuclear Medicine. During this process, a small probe is inserted into the thyroid nodule under local anaesthesia. High-frequency alternating current is produced by a generator and is conducted through the probe into the nodule. Tissue is heated, the temperature rise destroys the nodule gently, the treated tissue gets removed by the body itself. The treatment lasts 10-15 min, depending on size and number of nodules. An in-patient stay is not necessary. The procedure leaves no scars.
The Department of Nuclear Medicine at Frankfurt University Hospital is the only institute worldwide that offers various thermoablative methods. Since MWA has been introduced in August 2012, first patients have been treated with HIFU for thyroid nodules. For patients with simultaneously existing hot and cold nodules a combination therapy of thermal ablation and radioiodine therapy can be applied. Due to these different options each patient can be treated individually with the most suitable method.