Efficacy of radiofrequency ablation for treatment of toxic thyroid nodules—a narrative review

Jerica Lauren Podrat, Yoon Kyung Lee, Helmi S. Khadra

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background and Objective: Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) has been used in the treatment of benign thyroid nodules for the past 20 years. The adaptation of RFA to benign autonomously functioning thyroid nodules (AFTNs) has been introduced into clinical practice with variable efficacy and outcomes published in the literature. To better understand international practices, we performed a literature search to better elucidate the efficacy and outcomes in the treatment of AFTNs with RFA. Methods: Comprehensive literature searches were independently conducted by two investigators on PubMed, EMBASE, and Scopus in October of 2022 to identify articles reporting AFTN treated by RFA using the terms “RFA”, “radiofrequency ablation”, “thyroid nodule”, “toxic nodules”, and “autonomous functioning thyroid nodule”. Papers were selected by relevance of the title or abstract, and the date of publication. Key Content and Findings: In patients with toxic nodules, studies have shown 50% remission rate one year after single session of RFA, up to 71% after second dose. Adverse events are generally limited to postoperative pain lasting less than one day, however there are reports of self-limited voice changes, and self-limited hypothyroidism. RFA has been shown to be safe with no reported instances of post-procedure hypothyroidism or hypocalcemia when compared to radioactive iodine (RAI) and surgery. Conclusions: RFA is an acceptable alternative to surgical resection for the treatment of AFTNs in selective patients, however more studies on long-term hyperthyroidism remission rates and nodule regrowth are necessary for further applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)70-76
Number of pages7
JournalGland Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 29 2024


  • Radiofrequency ablation (RFA)
  • thyroid
  • toxic nodule

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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