Radiofrequency ablation and thyroid cancer: review of the current literature

Haris Muhammad, Aniqa Tehreem, Jonathon O. Russell

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: Thyroid nodules are commonly being diagnosed in general population and have a potential for malignant transformation. Historically, surgery has been considered as the first line treatment for these tumors. However, with passage of time newer minimally invasive techniques such as RFA (radiofrequency ablation) has been adapted. Though, RFA for thyroid tumors has been performed more commonly in Asian and European countries, it is a fairly new technique in North America. The aim of the review is to assess the current data and conclude that whether RFA is likely a valuable option when compared to surgery for treatment of thyroid tumors. Materials and methods: A Comprehensive PubMed/MEDLINE, Embase and Web of Science search was performed. To expand our search, references of the retrieved articles were also screened for additional data. After selecting the studies that fulfilled the initial screening, authors independently reviewed the selected studies and screened the full texts to identify those that met the inclusion criteria. Results: The comprehensive literature search from PubMed/MEDLINE, Web of Science, and EMBASE databases revealed 1094 studies (Embase 870, PubMed 200, and Web of Science 24). References were imported for screening. Amongst 1094 studies, 138 duplicates removed, and 956 studies were screened against title and abstract. After these 777 studies were excluded the remaining 179 studies were assessed for full-text eligibility. Amongst them 127 studies excluded due to wrong design or setting. Finally, 18 studies were included in the review. Conclusion: RFA appears to be a safe alternative to surgery in selected cases. However, it is not widely used and there are few randomized controlled trials. Furthermore, it is associated with a low risk profile and has shown promising results in patients who are difficult surgery candidates. Currently large-scale prospective studies are needed in North America to establish the efficacy of RFA and its use as an alternative to surgery for thyroid tumors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103204
JournalAmerican Journal of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Medicine and Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022


  • Medullary thyroid cancer
  • Papillary thyroid cancer
  • Radiofrequency ablation
  • Thyroid cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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