(New York, NY – August 27, 2019) - Mount Sinai West has begun offering a minimally invasive procedure to treat non-cancerous thyroid nodules that are symptomatic and would have otherwise required invasive surgery for removal. The procedure is called radio-frequency ablation (RFA). It offers eligible patients a much quicker recovery, less pain and risk of infection, and no scarring.
Mount Sinai West is one of only two hospitals in New York State offering this procedure. Catherine Sinclair, MD, Associate Professor of Otolaryngology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Director of Head and Neck Surgery at Mount Sinai West, performed the first procedures the week of August 18.
“I am very excited to be able to perform this procedure, as I truly believe it will change the management of benign thyroid nodules and improve outcomes for a subset of patients with symptomatic, non-cancerous thyroid nodules,” says Dr. Sinclair. “It is wonderful that people who previously would have required partial or complete thyroid surgery now have an alternative which minimizes their risk of complications.”
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With RFA, surgeons use guided ultrasound to deliver radio-frequency current to heat up and shrink the thyroid nodule. RFA can be done on patients with large non-cancerous nodules that cause swallowing, voice, breathing, and neck discomfort.
Patients who undergo RFA can return to normal activity the day after the procedure and can exercise within several days. Additionally, they are extremely unlikely to require permanent thyroid hormone medication. Patients who have standard thyroid nodule surgery typically can’t resume normal activity for at least a month and 20 to 30 percent of these patients require thyroid medication.
“Radiofrequency ablation for thyroid nodules has been performed in Korea for over a decade and throughout Europe and their outcomes are excellent. The published data shows impressive nodule shrinkage rates of more than 80 percent with RFA that is maintained over years of follow-up,” explained Dr. Sinclair. “Thyroid nodules are very common and, although many people will never require any intervention for their nodules, there is a significant minority who will seek treatment due to symptoms. I expect RFA to be a terrific new option for these patients.”
Mount Sinai West is the first and only hospital in the world using specialized and continuous laryngeal reflex monitoring during the radiofrequency ablation to prevent vocal cord damage and hoarseness, which are a potential risk during both RFA and standard surgery for thyroid nodule removal. Doctors stimulate nerve fibers to the voice box to prevent injuries. Typically, doctors monitor these nerves intermittently by stimulating them at various times through the procedure. But with intermittent monitoring, a possible nerve injury can be missed. Continuous stimulation allows doctors to see damage before it occurs and take preventive measures.