Information for the public

Benefits and risks

Benefits and risks

The evidence that NICE looked at for ultrasound‑guided percutaneous radiofrequency ablation to treat thyroid nodules showed that the procedure was safe enough and worked well enough to be used in the NHS.

The 7 studies that NICE looked at involved about 2,500 patients.

Generally, they showed the following benefits:

  • nodules were smaller

  • some patients were able to reduce or stop taking drugs for overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism)

  • cosmetic appearance was better and most people had less severe symptoms after the procedure.

The studies showed that the risks included:

  • bleeding during the procedure, causing bruising in some people

  • a nodule rupturing, up to several weeks after the procedure, needing further treatment in hospital. One patient had part of the thyroid surgically removed

  • the voice being affected after the procedure. In most patients, this usually got better over time

  • damage to a nerve going to the hand in 1 patient causing numbness and decreased sensation in the fingers, which got better

  • skin burns

  • 1 person had a permanently underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) after the procedure.

If you want to know more about the studies see the guidance. Ask your health professional to explain anything you don't understand.

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