European Radiology

, Volume 27, Issue 7, pp 2708–2716 | Cite as

Treatment Efficacy and Safety of Ethanol Ablation for Thyroglossal Duct Cysts: A Comparison with Surgery

  • Mi Sun Chung
  • Jung Hwan Baek
  • Jeong Hyun Lee
  • Young Jun Choi
  • Jong Ho Yoon
  • Soon Yuhl Nam
  • Seong Chul Kim
  • Jin Yong Sung
  • Seon Mi Baek
  • Dong Gyu Na
Head and Neck



To compare the efficacy and safety of ethanol ablation (EA) for thyroglossal duct cyst (TGDC) against surgery.


This study included 345 patients (289, surgery; 56, EA) treated for TGDC at four institutions between May 2005 and June 2014. Surgery (whole surgery and Sistrunk operation which is the current standard surgical method) and EA were compared with respect to the treatment failure and complication rates. The cost of EA and surgery was also compared. The Cox regression hazard model and linear regression were used for the adjustment of covariates.


EA demonstrated higher treatment failures (19.6% vs. 2.4%, p < 0.001[whole surgery] and 1.2%, p = 0.004 [Sistrunk operation]), but fewer complications (1.8% vs. 10.0%, p = 0.04 [whole surgery] and 10.2%, p = 0.06 [Sistrunk operation]), and lower cost (₩423,801 vs. ₩1,435,707 [whole surgery]) than surgery. EA achieved 85.7% of treatment success up to second session. The mean volume reduction rate after EA was 82.3% at last follow-up. Young age and EA were correlated with treatment failure (p = 0.01 and 0.001, respectively).


Both surgery and EA had acceptable treatment efficacy in the management of TGDC. Although there is a higher likelihood of treatment failure with EA, it has a better safety profile than surgery.

Key Points

Both surgery and ethanol ablation show acceptable treatment efficacy for TGDC.

Considering treatment failure, surgery manages TGDC more effectively than EA.

EA is safer than surgery and presents no major complications.

EA could be an alternative treatment for TGDC in selected patients.


Thyroglossal duct cyst Ethanol ablation Surgery Postoperative complications Treatment outcome 



computed tomography


ethanol ablation


fine needle aspiration


thyroglossal duct cyst





The scientific guarantor of this publication is Jung Hwan Baek. The authors of this manuscript declare no relationships with any companies, whose products or services may be related to the subject matter of the article. The authors state that this work has not received any funding. No complex statistical methods were necessary for this paper. Institutional Review Board approval was obtained. Written informed consent was waived by the Institutional Review Board. However, informed consent was obtained from all patients prior to performing a biopsy, EA procedure, or surgery.

Some study subjects (11 of the 345 patients) have been previously reported in a study by Kim et al. [14].

Methodology: retrospective, cross sectional study, multicenter study.

Supplementary material

330_2016_4659_MOESM1_ESM.docx (343 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 342 kb)


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Copyright information

© European Society of Radiology 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mi Sun Chung
    • 1
  • Jung Hwan Baek
    • 1
  • Jeong Hyun Lee
    • 1
  • Young Jun Choi
    • 1
  • Jong Ho Yoon
    • 2
  • Soon Yuhl Nam
    • 3
  • Seong Chul Kim
    • 4
  • Jin Yong Sung
    • 5
  • Seon Mi Baek
    • 6
  • Dong Gyu Na
    • 7
  1. 1.Department of Radiology and Research Institute of RadiologyUniversity of Ulsan College of Medicine, Asan Medical CenterSeoulKorea
  2. 2.Department of Breast and Endocrine SurgeryUniversity of Ulsan College of Medicine, Asan Medical CenterSeoulKorea
  3. 3.Department of Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Head and Neck Cancer CenterUniversity of Ulsan College of Medicine, Asan Medical CenterSeoulKorea
  4. 4.Department of Pediatric SurgeryUniversity of Ulsan College of Medicine, Asan Medical CenterSeoulKorea
  5. 5.Department of Radiology and Thyroid CenterDaerim St. Mary’s HospitalDaerimKorea
  6. 6.Department of RadiologySharing and Happiness HospitalSeoulKorea
  7. 7.Department of RadiologyHuman Medical Imaging & Intervention CenterSeoulKorea

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