Thyroid Radiofreqeuncy Ablation (RFA)

What is thyroid radiofrequency ablation (RFA)

Thyroid RFA is a minimally invasive medical procedure that treats thyroid nodules. Using ultrasoundguided imaging, the nodule is located, allowing the treatment to focus solely on the targeted nodular area. Using a radiofrequency generator, your doctor allows a carefully controlled amount of energy to flow through the electrode into the tissue to ablate the nodule. With the sustained RFA thermal heat, the nodule is degenerated, allowing the degenerated tissue to flow through your body naturally as waste over the course of a few months.

Thyroid Gland and Why is it Important

Our brains, hearts, and digestive and metabolic systems function normally with the help of one small gland: the thyroid gland.

Your butterfly-shaped thyroid gland is located at the front of your neck near the base of your throat, wrapping around your windpipe. The thyroid gland is part of your endocrine system, where it secretes hormones to regulate your body’s heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, and metabolism.

Thyroid Nodules and Common Treatment

The majority of nodules are benign and not life-threatening. However, they can still cause problems, including discomfort, difficulty or pain when swallowing, production of excess thyroid hormones, swelling, and enlargement in the neck.

While surgery can be effective, it can leave unsightly scarring and the long-term effects of removing the thyroid can be problematic for patients. You may develop hypothyroidism following partial thyroid surgery, requiring life-long medication to supply enough thyroid hormone for your body. This is especially true if you had your entire thyroid gland removed.






Why choose thyroid RFA?

Thyroid RFA is a minimally invasive, non-surgical treatment for undesirable thyroid nodules. This procedure is a quick and safe option that enables patients to resume normal daily activity with minimal recovery periods.

The term radiofrequency (RF) refers to an alternating electric current oscillating between 200 kHz and 1200 kHz. Application of Radiofrequency agitates tissue ions as they attempt to follow the changes in the direction of the alternating current, thus creating frictional heat around the electrode. Although heat creates immediate damage to the tissue, this is significant only in regions within a few millimeters of the electrode.

Benefits of Thyroid RFA

  • Preserves your healthy thyroid tissue
  • Allows your thyroid to function normally without the need for a lifetime of medication
  • Minimally invasive procedure
  • Performed under local anesthesia
  • Performed as an out-patient procedure, which means no downtime or hospitalization
  • Shorter recovery times
  • No scarring
  • Nodule volume reduction overtime
  • Low complication rate
  • Quality of life


Preserves your healthy thyroid tissue, helping the thyroid to function normally without the need for lifetime medication.


A thin needle is used to avoid any surgical scars. No general anesthesia is required, which means no downtime or hospitalization.


A major clinical study showed that non-functioning benign nodules shrunk 73% in the first 6 months and up to 93% within 4 years.


Tens of thousands of patients across the globe have chosen STARmed Thyroid RFA to successfully treat their thyroid disease.

Risk of Thyroid RFA

All treatments and procedures have risks and these will be discussed in detail with you by your doctor.  
  • Minor complications can include skin burn, hematoma, and vomiting.
  • Major complications are rare but can include: nodule rupture, nodule rupture causing an infection, and voice change. The risk of permanent injury to the voice box nerve causing alteration in the voice is less than 1% (1 in 100).
  • Larger nodules may require more than one treatment for effective nodule shrinkage. Your doctor will discuss with you the likelihood of needing additional treatments during your initial assessment.

Preparing for Thyroid RFA

Your healthcare provider will review any of your current medications and provide further instructions if needed. Other than blood thinners, which you will likely need to stop taking a few days prior to the procedure, most medications do not interfere with the procedure.

What happens during the STARmed Thyroid RFA Procedure?

To begin the procedure, you will be asked to lie your head on a small cushion, with your neck extended. Two grounding pads will be placed on your thighs. Your doctor will clean and prepare the skin and then administer local anesthesia in the area surrounding your thyroid. You will be able to breathe, swallow and speak normally during the entire procedure.

A thin needle electrode will be inserted directly into the nodule and the doctor will allow a carefully controlled amount of energy to flow into the tissue to ablate (treat) the nodule. Ablative changes to the nodule caused by the treatment can be seen in real-time by the doctors performing the procedure. To ensure that you are handling the procedure well, your doctor may ask you how you are doing and whether or not you can feel any pain. They can easily make adjustments if you are uncomfortable at any time.

With the sustained RFA thermal heat, the affected nodule may be permanently destroyed. Your immune system will break down the affected tissue, shrink the nodule, and then let the affected tissue flow through the body naturally as waste.

When the procedure is complete, a small bandage will be placed on the treatment site, and ice packs may be used to cool your neck.


Using ultrasound, your doctor will locate the nodule and inset a thin electrode into the affected area. This method ensure that the treatment is focused solely on the targeted nodule area.


Using a VIVA RF generator, your doctor will allow energy to flow through the electrode into the nodule. The radiofrequency ablates the nodule and the heat is sustained for a safe, pre-determined length of time, usually just few minutes.


With the sustained RFA thermal heat, the nodule is degenerated and flows through the body as waste. Most patients notice a reduction in nodule size in just 2-3 weeks.

What to Expect After the STARmed Thyroid RFA

You will be monitored for a short period of time and then discharged. Please check with your physician before the procedure regarding driving as you may need someone to drive you to and from the procedure. You should be able to return to most of your day-to-day activities almost immediately.

What Happens to the Nodules After Procedure

After the procedure, the cells of the treated thyroid nodule are removed by the body’s immune system. Most patients notice a reduction in nodule size in just 2 to 3 weeks, with solid nodules taking longer than cystic nodules.

The amount of reduction depends on the original size and nature of the nodules. After three months, the average reduction rate is 40% to 60% and about 60% to 90% reduction rate at the one-year mark.

Years after the procedure, only the scar tissues will remain in the treated area. The nodule around the scar may still remain, but this area will be minimized after the procedure. The surrounding healthy thyroid gland will be preserved and will continue to produce thyroid hormone.

Symptoms like difficulty swallowing, pressure or tightness in the throat, or a bulky nodular appearance are typically eliminated or significantly reduced.





Have Questions? We’ve got answers

Is the procedure painful?
Because local anesthesia is administered before the procedure, very few patients experience any pain at all. During the RFA, it’s normal to feel pushing and pressure in the neck, but the procedure generally does not cause pain. Patients occasionally feel heat or discomfort in the neck that may radiate to the ear or jaws. Following your procedure, you will be given ice packs and pain medication if needed. For more questions related to the procedure, please consult directly with your doctor.

How many treatments are necessary?
One procedure will sufficiently decrease the size of the nodules and improve symptoms, but If the treated nodules are close to vocal cord nerves or nodules are very large, additional procedures may be necessary to decrease the nodule significantly. The untreated areas of nodules may impede the improvement of thyroid function so that complete ablation may be required, and more than one procedure may be needed.

Will the procedure leave a scar?
No. The procedure is delivered using a thin needle. There may be small markings on your neck from the needle for 1-2 days following the procedure, but it will not leave any visible scarring.