Currently, insurance companies cover the evaluation of thyroid nodules, but radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is not a recognized benefit. Heat image-guided ablation is rarely covered, but chemical ablation with ethanol is usually approved. Unfortunately, the new FRG procedure may not be covered by insurance. Radiofrequency ablation carries out-of-pocket costs, and doctors are working to get insurers to cover it in the future.
UT Southwestern's patient services can help you find resources if you need or want this procedure. Medicare covers RFA for certain conditions if a plan-approved doctor deems it medically necessary. The criteria for approval vary depending on the condition being treated. For RFA to become widespread in the US, insurance companies must cover the procedure.
Although some patients have coverage, it is not easy to obtain. Radiofrequency ablation is a minimally invasive, non-surgical, outpatient procedure that reduces nodules without compromising thyroid function and helps prevent prolonged recovery times from thyroid surgery. The functioning thyroid lobe is preserved and the node is reduced in size. This method applies internal energy to thyroid nodules to destroy problem tissue without damaging the healthy external thyroid gland.
ARF is an interesting option for patients with benign thyroid nodule problems, without the risks of ARI. In a study of 450 Chinese patients published in January, ARF was found to be superior to conventional thyroidectomy in terms of patient satisfaction, postoperative quality of life, and shorter hospital stay, although it took longer to achieve a reduction in nodule volume. In one case, a hospital has formed a multidisciplinary board of thyroid nodule RFA tumors to assist with decision-making. One of the most significant long-term advantages of RFA is that you may not need to take thyroid medication for life.
If you have symptoms of thyroid nodules but don't want surgery, you may be a candidate for RFA and should discuss this with your endocrinologist. Patients who have symptoms of thyroid nodules will receive a comprehensive evaluation that includes neck ultrasound, ultrasound-guided biopsies, and radiofrequency ablation of the thyroid nodule in one place. At the Utah Thyroid Institute, RFA is performed in-office with local anesthesia only and no increased risk of the procedure. The RFA Tumor Board consists of experts in all specialties involved in the evaluation and treatment of thyroid nodules, including surgeons, interventional radiologists and endocrinologists.