Now accepting Concierge Medicine appointments

Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA)

The Alpine Center for Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Metabolism, PC

Endocrinology & Diabetes and Obesity Specialists located in Superior, CO

The Alpine Center is pleased to offer Radiofrequency Ablation treatment for thyroid nodules. This unique non-surgical approach is highly successful and avoids painful and costly surgeries to achieve the same goals. We are the only endocrine practice in Colorado currently offering this procedure to qualified patients and we are excited to bring an effective nonsurgical management option to the region. 

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Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) Q & A

What Is Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA)?

Offered in other countries for more than a decade, radiofrequency ablation is now available in the United States. Developed over fifteen years ago, this non-surgical alternative shrinks the nodules without compromising thyroid function and helps avoid long recovery times of thyroid surgery.

Using radio frequency waves, radiofrequency ablation cauterizes thyroid nodules and cysts. Performed under local anesthesia, radiofrequency ablation is relatively painless and does not require general anesthesia. Doctors use guided ultrasound to insert a special probe into the thyroid nodule. Heat produced at the probe tip by the radiofrequency current destroys the tissue of the nodule. The cauterized tissue is then broken down and removed by the body.

Who Is A Candidate For RFA?

Dr. Fox will meet with potential candidates to review their medical history, biopsy results, and nodule characteristics to determine if the procedure is likely to be safe and effective. Generally, two benign thyroid biopsies are required before the ablation may be done, and not all nodules will respond equally to the procedure. This consultation with Dr. Fox is billed to insurance as normal and usually lasts between 45-60 minutes.

How Effective Is This Procedure?

Clinical trials measured the rate of reduction, therapeutic success, changes in symptoms and cosmetic improvement of benign thyroid nodules.

For “cold” benign nodules (those that do not produce excess thyroid hormone), clinical trials have shown a mean volume reduction rate of 32.7 to 58.2% at one month, and 50.7 to 84.8% at six months. In most patients, nodule related symptoms and cosmetic problems also significantly improved or disappeared. In a long term follow-up study, radiofrequency ablation was effective over a four year period with the nodules consistently decreasing to 93.5% of their original volume.

For “hot” benign thyroid nodules (those that do produce excess thyroid hormone) clinical trials have shown volume reduction rates of 52.6 to 70.7% at six months, and improved or normalized thyroid function in most patients. In a multi-center study, hyperthyroidism caused by “hot” nodules improved in all patients and was completely normalized in 81.8% of patients. This led to the conclusion that radiofrequency ablation can be considered an alternative to thyroid surgery or radioactive iodine therapy.

Advantages Disadvantages
No life-long medication : thyroid-preserving Gradual volume reduction : follow-up needed
No general anesthesia: local anesthesia only Repeat sessions in large tumor
No admission: outpatient-based Marginal regrowth of undertreated portion
No surgical scar: aesthetically pleasing  
No downtime for work or life style : economical  
Less complication : safe  


Is RFA covered by my insurance?

Currently thyroid RFA is not covered by insurance. For most people, the cost is less than or comparable to out-of-pocket expenses associated with surgery, and without the time lost to recovery or a permanent neck scar. Some people may be able to receive partial reimbursement from their insurance, but we are unable to offer any guarantee regarding potential reimbursement.

How Do I Learn More or Set Up A Consultation?

Please click here to reach out to our team, or feel free to contact our office at 720-923-7209 Monday to Thursday with any inquiries.