Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a minimally invasive nonsurgical alternative treatment for benign thyroid nodules. This procedure was developed over 15 years ago and has been performed extensively in other countries such as Italy, South Americas and Korea. In 2018, the procedure received FDA clearance in soft tissue.
RFA utilizes radiofrequency waves to shrink nodules by cauterizing thyroid nodules and cysts while preserving thyroid function. This office-based procedure is performed under local anesthesia. Ultrasound guidance is used to insert a thermal probe into the thyroid nodule. Through selective heating of the probe tip, the nodule is destroyed, and the cauterized tissue is then broken down by the body.
RFA offers an aesthetic alternative with no surgical scarring, while avoiding risks and down time associated with surgery.
Standard of care examination of thyroid nodules involves utilizing ultrasound to look for suspicious characteristics that may warrant further investigation by means of a fine-needle aspiration biopsy. The biopsy is performed with ultrasound guidance and sent for pathological evaluation to determine if the cells are cancerous or not. The majority of thyroid nodules are benign and there are various options for treatment and follow up.
The doctors can provide a full-service evaluation of thyroid nodules at any of their practice locations in the metroplex.
When evaluating thyroid nodules, our practice utilizes thyroid specialty pathology services in addition to advanced molecular testing to maximize the information for our patients to obtain the best diagnosis for personalized treatment planning.
Molecular testing for thyroid nodules was introduced in 2011 to provide more information for indeterminate pathology diagnosis, which can occur 10-30% of the time. Before molecular testing was available, the only option these patients had was to have surgery to remove the thyroid gland. Upon removal, 75% of these nodules are actually benign. Molecular testing is now used when pathology is indeterminate, with the ability to reclassify over half of these nodules as benign.
Dr. Ragsdale and Dr. Gonzales were some of the first thyroid surgeons in the country to adopt the usage of molecular testing to help patients avoid these unnecessary surgeries.
Thyroidectomy is the surgery to remove part or all of the thyroid gland. This surgery is necessary for those thyroid nodules determined to be cancerous on fine needle aspiration. Thyroid surgery may also be recommended for patients with large nodules causing obstructive symptoms or for conditions such as hyperthyroidism. Both Dr. Gonzales and Dr. Ragsdale are high volume thyroid and parathyroid surgeons which means that these operations are done multiple times per month. Studies have shown that high volume thyroid surgeons have fewer complications compared with surgeons that perform less than 25 per year. Dr. Gonzales and Dr. Ragsdale are both board certified as head and neck surgeons and are therefore able to perform surgical removal of lymph nodes in the neck if involved with cancer. Both surgeons use less invasive surgical techniques and perform plastic surgery type closure of the incisions for better cosmetic results.