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Inoperable Symptomatic Recurrent Thyroid Cancers: Preliminary Result of Radiofrequency Ablation


To determine the role of radiofrequency ablation (RFA) in patients with inoperable symptomatic recurrent thyroid cancers.

Materials and Methods

Eleven patients with 16 symptomatic recurrent thyroid cancers but ineligible for surgery were prospectively enrolled and underwent ultrasound-guided RFA with local anesthesia in 16 sessions. The mean tumor volume and diameter were 9 ml (range 0.1–34 ml) and 2.9 cm (range 0.7–4.8 cm), respectively. Patients had dysphagia, hoarseness, dyspnea, or a protruding mass due to recurrent tumors. Tumor volume was calculated from follow-up ultrasound, and symptoms were assessed after RFA.


Of 16 sessions, tumor ablation was complete in 6, incomplete in 9, and failed in 1. Incomplete or failed ablation was due to intolerable pain, severe calcified lesion, or tumor encasement of major vessels. Of 15 treated lesions, 13 decreased in volume. Regrowth of treated tumors was observed in 2 lesions. The mean volume reduction was 50.9% (range −9.4 to 96.8%). There were gains for symptom relief for 7 patients (63.6%) with protruding masses (n = 6) and discomfort due to tracheal compression (n = 1). The mean follow-up was 6 months (1–14 months). There were no major complications except a patient with skin burn.


RFA is feasible and safe, and can improve symptoms in the short term.

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Supported by a grant from the IN-SUNG Foundation for Medical Research, Korea.

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Correspondence to Jung Hee Shin MD, PhD.

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Park, K.W., Shin, J.H., Han, B. et al. Inoperable Symptomatic Recurrent Thyroid Cancers: Preliminary Result of Radiofrequency Ablation. Ann Surg Oncol 18, 2564–2568 (2011).

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  • Papillary Thyroid Carcinoma
  • Follicular Thyroid Carcinoma
  • Thyroglobulin Level
  • Tracheal Compression
  • Intolerable Pain