Healthcare Technology Featured Article

November 28, 2012

Microwave Ablation Shows Positive Results for Thyroid Nodules at Frankfurt University Hospital

The thyroid gland is responsible for many functions in your body. If it is damaged in any way, it can stop or start producing too much or too little of the hormones your body needs resulting in hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. Beside these conditions, nodules can start forming on the thyroid resulting in benign or cancerous nodules. While most nodules are benign they present quality of life issues for the patients and they have to be removed. The microwave ablation performed at the Department of Nuclear Medicine at the Frankfurt University Hospital was the first European hospital to perform the procedure for thyroid nodules.

The German population has a high rate of this condition, with almost 20 percent of the population experiencing one or more nodules on their thyroid. The population over the age of 65 has a higher frequency of the disorder, affecting nearly one in two people.

If cancer is not detected the problem the condition presents is physical discomfort. The nodule makes it difficult to swallow, creates pressure in the throat, chronic coughing, hoarseness and a feeling of having a lump in the throat all the time.

Ablation is the removal of something through erosion, and in this case it is the nodules. Previously nodules on the thyroid were removed surgically or with radiation therapy and both had serious cosmetic and physiological side effects. With microwave ablation, the procedure is performed without anesthesia and the patient will show minimal cosmetic damage because the insertion point is a thin needle.

"The microwave ablation also causes significantly fewer side effects because no anesthesia is required. This makes it a very promising alternative to the established procedures," said Dr. Hudayi Korkusuz, radiologist of the Department of Nuclear Medicine, who performed the first microwave treatment, in a statement. The hospital used MedWave’s AveCure microwave ablation system to perform the procedure.

With a local anesthesia, a needle is inserted into the affected area of the thyroid and the microwaves are focused on the nodules. The heat from the microwave destroys the diseased cells and the treated tissue is metabolized by the body. The procedure last between 10 to 15 minutes for each nodule and a hospital stay of a couple of days ends the treatment. The results are almost immediate and additional procedures can be performed if more nodules are present during the same hospital stay.

Edited by Jamie Epstein

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