The purpose of this study was to confirm the generalisation of radiofrequency ablation (RFA) in the treatment of benign thyroid nodules (BTN) and to look for a correlation between final shrinkage and some ultrasound (US) findings in a large Italian population data set.
This prospective study included 337 patients with solid cold BTN from six Italian institutions. Nodule volume, US pattern, thyroid function, symptom/cosmetic scores and complications were evaluated before treatment and at 6 and 12 months. The primary outcome was to find a correlation between basal volume and US pattern of the nodules and final shrinkage. The secondary outcome was to confirm the efficacy and safety of RFA in a large data set.
The median basal volume was 20.7 mL, and this significantly decreased after RFA at 6 months (7.3 mL (−63.5%), P < 0.001) and at 12 months (6 mL (−70%), P vs 6 months = 0.009). A significant correlation was found for US structure (a spongiform pattern showing a 76% reduction vs 67 and 66% of mix and solid patterns respectively, P < 0.01) as well as for vascularity (intense peripheral and intranodal patterns showing 71 vs 68 and 67% of weak peripheral and intranodal and peripheral patterns respectively, P < 0.03), but not for macrocalcifications. A slight inverse correlation was found between nodule basal volume and shrinkage (Spearman: −0.23). Mean symptoms/cosmetic scores were significantly reduced. No major complications were encountered.
This multicentre study validated the efficacy and safety of RFA for treating BTN and showed a clear correlation between final shrinkage and some common US findings.