Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a minimally invasive treatment that can be used to reduce the size of tumors, nodules, or other growths in the body. It is one of several types of ablation therapy, and is often used when surgery is not a good option. RFA is a procedure that uses imaging guidance to place a needle through the skin until it reaches the growth. An electric current produced by a radio wave is then used to heat the small area of tissue, destroying cancer cells and reducing pain signals from that specific area. RFA is an effective treatment option for patients who may have difficulty with surgery or for those whose tumors are less than one and a half inches in diameter.
The success rate for completely eliminating small liver tumors is over 85 percent. It can also be used to treat chronic venous insufficiency in the legs, chronic back and neck pain, and benign and malignant tumors. The procedure is done in a doctor's office or hospital, and patients usually return home the same day. During the procedure, a healthcare provider uses radio waves to apply heat to specific nerves through specialized needles, temporarily disrupting their ability to send pain signals to the brain. X-ray images are used to help the doctor ensure that it is directed to the correct nerve. If you and your doctor decide that RFA is appropriate for treating a thyroid nodule, you will have one or more fine-needle aspiration biopsy procedures to make sure that the nodule is benign.
Because treatment of thyroid nodule with RFA is relatively new, the risk of these procedures is still being evaluated.