The following article features coverage from the American Thyroid Association (ATA) 2018 meeting. Click here to read more of Cancer Therapy Advisor‘s conference coverage.

The addition of ethanol to radiofrequency ablation (RFA) of benign thyroid nodules reduced the time and energy requirements of the ablation and may reduce complications, according to a study presented at the 88th Annual Meeting of the American Thyroid Association in Washington, D.C.1

RFA is frequently used to treat benign solid thyroid nodules, but requires high power and energy use in this setting, which can increase the risk of complications. Ethanol has been known to be used to treat cystic solid thyroid nodules; the purpose of this study was to evaluate the novel use of ethanol with RFA.

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The study included 84 patients with benign thyroid nodules who were randomly assigned to undergo RFA with ethanol sensitization or conventional RFA. Ethanol sensitization was performed prior to the RFA by injecting a small volume of ethanol into the nodule until most of the nodule demonstrated a high echo. The mean ethanol dose was 1.92 mL per nodule and 0.08 mL per milliliter nodule.

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Ethanol sensitization reduced the time and ablation energy associated with  RFA. The treatment time with ethanol was 454.7 s (± 234.3 s) compared with 796 s (± 349.0 s) with conventional RFA. Similarly, ethanol sensitization significantly reduced the ablation energy of the RFA to 3.69 KJ (± 1.98 KJ) compared with 5.10 KJ (± 2.15 KJ) with conventional RFA (P < .01).

The ablation area and volume reduction area at 1 month and 6 months were similar between groups.

There were 2 cases of hematoma reported after conventional RFA, but no complications were reported with ethanol sensitization plus RFA.

The authors concluded that these data suggest that “ethanol can significantly improve the efficiency of RFA, reduce the time and energy of ablation, and reduce the occurrence of complications.”

Read more of Cancer Therapy Advisor‘s coverage of the ATA 2018 meeting by visiting the conference page.


  1. Luo Y, Zhang M, Zhang Y. Randomized controlled clinical trial of ethanol sensitized radiofrequency ablation for benign solid thyroid nodules. Presented at: the 88th Annual Meeting of the American Thyroid Association; Washington, D.C.: October 3-7, 2018.