Ablation Treats Thyroid Nodules


CLEVELAND, Ohio (Ivanhoe Newswire) – Up to 70 percent of all adults may have thyroid nodules at one point in their lives. Most are non-cancerous, and many go undiscovered, or are found by accident during testing for other conditions. Now, doctors are using a non-invasive method to shrink some benign nodules in a procedure that takes less than an hour.

Michelle Bylaw discovered a problem with her thyroid by accident.

“I just happened to be touching my neck and noticed a bump there,” she recalls.

A thyroid nodule, not cancerous, but as months went on, the nodule continued to grow.

She adds, “I was also getting concerned about whether it would eventually affect my swallowing or anything else in that area.”

For years, surgery has been the traditional treatment for cancerous thyroid nodules, and for benign nodules that keep growing. Now, doctors at the Cleveland Clinic are among the first to use radio frequency ablation to treat non-cancerous nodules. Using ultrasound guidance, doctors put a special needle into the nodule.

Cleveland Clinic endocrine surgeon, Dr. Eren Berber, MD, explains, “We start the ablation process, which involves delivering a certain amount of energy for the needles, so that the nodule is heated.”

(Read Full Interview)

The procedure lasts up to an hour. Over a three-to-six-month period, the medical team uses ultrasound to monitor the nodule.

“Within six months, you can have up to about 50% reduction of the size of the nodule in term of its volume,” Dr. Berber adds.

For Michelle Bylaw, the procedure meant she could avoid invasive surgery.

She expresses, “It made the recovery a lot faster, and it was a lot less painful than I anticipated.”

Doctors say right now, the radio frequency ablation procedure is offered to selected patents with benign tumors only and not for patients with thyroid cancer.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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REPORT:       MB #5140

BACKGROUND: Thyroid nodules are solid or fluid-filled lumps that form within your thyroid, a small gland located at the base of your neck, just above your breastbone. Most thyroid nodules aren’t serious and don’t cause symptoms. Only a small percentage of thyroid nodules are cancerous. About 43,800 new cases of thyroid cancer (11,860 in men and 31,940 in women) and about 2,230 deaths from thyroid cancer (1,070 men and 1,160 women). Thyroid cancer is commonly diagnosed at a younger age than most other adult cancers. And women are 3 times more likely to develop thyroid cancer than men.

(Sources: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/thyroid-nodules/symptoms-causes/syc-20355262


DIAGNOSING: When thyroid nodules do produce symptoms, the most common are a lump in the neck and a sense of mass while swallowing (and possibly difficulty swallowing). In addition, larger nodules may cause difficulty breathing, hoarseness, and neck pain. Your doctor can detect a thyroid nodule by examining your neck to feel your thyroid gland. Your doctor can also diagnose thyroid nodules after performing ultrasounds, blood tests, or a biopsy.

(Source: https://www.endocrineweb.com/conditions/thyroid-nodules)

NEW TECHNOLOGY: Cleveland Clinic is among the first hospital to announce its use of radiofrequency ablation technology to treat benign thyroid nodules that can cause troublesome symptoms, such as neck pain or pressure, difficulty swallowing or breathing. The procedure involves putting a special needle into the thyroid nodule under ultrasound guidance and running energy to create heat that can treat and shrink the nodule. The procedure can be performed with local anesthesia in a surgical setting. After the procedure, the endocrine team monitors the nodule every three to six months with ultrasound.

(Source: https://newsroom.clevelandclinic.org/2022/05/12/cleveland-clinic-creates-new-program-for-minimally-invasive-treatment-of-thyroid-nodules/#:~:text=Cleveland%20Clinic%20is%20the%20first,pressure%2C%20difficulty%20swallowing%20or%20breathing)


Caroline Auger


If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com

Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Dr. Eren Berber, MD, endocrine surgeon, vice chair of the endocrine surgery department

Read the entire Q&A