• Press Release

Mount Sinai Surgeon Performs Radiofrequency Ablation for Thyroid Nodules

Mount Sinai West is one of the first hospitals in New York offering this minimally invasive procedure and the only hospital performing it with neural monitoring

  • New York, NY
  • (August 27, 2019)

To watch a video of this procedure click here

To watch our surgeon explain this procedure click here.

Mount Sinai West has begun offering a minimally invasive procedure to treat non-cancerous thyroid nodules that are symptomatic and would have otherwise required invasive surgery for removal. The procedure is called radio-frequency ablation (RFA). It offers eligible patients a much quicker recovery, less pain and risk of infection, and no scarring.

Mount Sinai West is one of only two hospitals in New York State offering this procedure. Catherine Sinclair, MD, Associate Professor of Otolaryngology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Director of Head and Neck Surgery at Mount Sinai West, performed the first procedures the week of August 18.

“I am very excited to be able to perform this procedure, as I truly believe it will change the management of benign thyroid nodules and improve outcomes for a subset of patients with symptomatic, non-cancerous thyroid nodules,” says Dr. Sinclair. “It is wonderful that people who previously would have required partial or complete thyroid surgery now have an alternative which minimizes their risk of complications.”

With RFA, surgeons use guided ultrasound to deliver radio-frequency current to heat up and shrink the thyroid nodule. RFA can be done on patients with large non-cancerous nodules that cause swallowing, voice, breathing, and neck discomfort.  

Patients who undergo RFA can return to normal activity the day after the procedure and can exercise within several days. Additionally, they are extremely unlikely to require permanent thyroid hormone medication. Patients who have standard thyroid nodule surgery typically can’t resume normal activity for at least a month and 20 to 30 percent of these patients require thyroid medication.

“Radiofrequency ablation for thyroid nodules has been performed in Korea for over a decade and throughout Europe and their outcomes are excellent. The published data shows impressive nodule shrinkage rates of more than 80 percent with RFA that is maintained over years of follow-up,” explained Dr. Sinclair. “Thyroid nodules are very common and, although many people will never require any intervention for their nodules, there is a significant minority who will seek treatment due to symptoms. I expect RFA to be a terrific new option for these patients.”

Mount Sinai West is the first and only hospital in the world using specialized and continuous laryngeal reflex monitoring during the radiofrequency ablation to prevent vocal cord damage and hoarseness, which are potential risks during both RFA and standard surgery for thyroid nodule removal. Doctors check nerve fiber function throughout the procedure and the continuous stimulation allows doctors to see damage before it occurs and take preventive measures. Typically, in open thyroid surgeries, doctors monitor these nerves intermittently by stimulating them at various times through the procedure. But with intermittent monitoring, a possible nerve injury can be missed. Continuous stimulation allows doctors to see damage before it occurs and take preventive measures. The method of continuous laryngeal monitoring developed and used by doctors at Mount Sinai is the only one that can be done without a neck incision and therefore is the only monitoring technique available for non-invasive procedures such as RFA.

Patients with large benign thyroid nodules that can be felt and that cause pain, difficulty swallowing, or difficulty breathing, are candidates for RFA. It is performed with the patients under general or local anesthesia.

About the Mount Sinai Health System

Mount Sinai Health System is one of the largest academic medical systems in the New York metro area, with 48,000 employees working across eight hospitals, more than 400 outpatient practices, more than 600 research and clinical labs, a school of nursing, and a leading school of medicine and graduate education. Mount Sinai advances health for all people, everywhere, by taking on the most complex health care challenges of our time—discovering and applying new scientific learning and knowledge; developing safer, more effective treatments; educating the next generation of medical leaders and innovators; and supporting local communities by delivering high-quality care to all who need it.

Through the integration of its hospitals, labs, and schools, Mount Sinai offers comprehensive health care solutions from birth through geriatrics, leveraging innovative approaches such as artificial intelligence and informatics while keeping patients’ medical and emotional needs at the center of all treatment. The Health System includes approximately 9,000 primary and specialty care physicians and 11 free-standing joint-venture centers throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida. Hospitals within the System are consistently ranked by Newsweek’s® “The World’s Best Smart Hospitals, Best in State Hospitals, World Best Hospitals and Best Specialty Hospitals” and by U.S. News & World Report's® “Best Hospitals” and “Best Children’s Hospitals.” The Mount Sinai Hospital is on the U.S. News & World Report® “Best Hospitals” Honor Roll for 2024-2025.

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