Efficacy of radiofrequency ablation in autonomous functioning thyroid nodules. A systematic review and meta-analysis

  • Roberto Cesareo
  • Andrea Palermo
  • Domenico Benvenuto
  • Eleonora Cella
  • Valerio Pasqualini
  • Stella Bernardi
  • Fulvio Stacul
  • Silvia Angeletti
  • Giovanni Mauri
  • Massimo Ciccozzi
  • Pierpaolo TrimboliEmail author


Whether thermal ablation is effective to treat toxic thyroid nodules (TTN) is still unknown. Aim of this review was to achieve more robust evidence on the efficacy of radiofrequency ablation (RFA) in treating TTN in terms of TSH normalization, thyroid scintiscan, and volume reduction rate (VRR). A comprehensive literature search of PubMed/Medline and Scopus was performed in November 2018 to retrieve published studies. Original papers reporting TTN treated by RFA and later followed-up were eligible. Excluded were: articles not within this field, articles with unclear data, overlapping series, case/series reports. Discordances were solved in a final collegial meeting. Information was collected concerning population features, treatment procedure, follow-up, cases with TSH normalization, cases with scintiscan normalization, VRR of nodules. Pooled prevalence of patients with TSH or scintiscan normalization, and pooled VRR over time were calculated. For statistical analysis, the random-effects model was used. Eight articles published between 2008 and 2018 were included. The overall number of AFTN treated by RFA was 205. Five studies used a single session of treatment. The time of follow-up ranged from six to 24 months. The pooled rate of patients with TSH normalization was 57%. The pooled rate of patients with scintigraphically proven optimal response was 60%. The pooled VRR at 1 year was 79%. Baseline nodules volume was associated with the rate of TSH normalization. In conclusion, a moderate efficacy of RFA in treating TTN was found, and this can represent a solid starting point in this field.


Radiofrequency ablation Autonomous functioning thyroid nodules 



Autonomously functioning thyroid nodules


Laser ablation


Percutaneous ethanol injection


Radiofrequency ablation


Toxic thyroid nodules


Volume reduction rate


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019
corrected publication 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roberto Cesareo
    • 1
  • Andrea Palermo
    • 2
  • Domenico Benvenuto
    • 3
  • Eleonora Cella
    • 3
  • Valerio Pasqualini
    • 4
  • Stella Bernardi
    • 5
  • Fulvio Stacul
    • 6
  • Silvia Angeletti
    • 7
  • Giovanni Mauri
    • 8
  • Massimo Ciccozzi
    • 3
  • Pierpaolo Trimboli
    • 9
    Email author
  1. 1.Thyroid and Metabolic Bone Diseases CenterSanta Maria Goretti HospitalLatinaItaly
  2. 2.Department of EndocrinologyUniversity Campus BiomedicoRomeItaly
  3. 3.Unit of Medical statistic and Molecular EpidemiologyUniversity Campus Bio-MedicoRomeItaly
  4. 4.Departments of RadiologySanta Maria Goretti HospitalLatinaItaly
  5. 5.Department of Medical SciencesUniversity of Trieste, Cattinara Teaching HospitalTriesteItaly
  6. 6.Radiology Department, Maggiore Teaching HospitalASUITSTriesteItaly
  7. 7.UOC Laboratory MedicineUniversity Hospital Campus Bio-Medico of RomeRomeItaly
  8. 8.Division of Interventional RadiologyEuropean Institute of Oncology, IRCCSMilanItaly
  9. 9.Department of Nuclear Medicine and Thyroid CentreOncology Institute of Southern SwitzerlandBellinzonaSwitzerland

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