Tawam Hospital, part of the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA), shares the story of the first patient to have been treated at Tawam Hospital using a novel procedure called Thyroid Radiofrequency and Microwave Ablation.

The procedure was conducted on a 75-year-old male patient, with a history of a large compressive benign thyroid nodule, under local anesthesia. He was discharged after one hour and has been successfully treated.

Historically, surgery has been the only treatment for symptomatic and enlarging thyroid nodules, and patients would inevitably end up having total or hemi thyroidectomy followed by life-long hormonal replacement therapy.

Thyroid Radiofrequency and Microwave Ablation is a non-invasive procedure that uses friction heat to destroy tumor tissue. Overtime, the body absorbs the ablated tissue, which reduces the size of the nodule. This procedure has several benefits including greater than 50 percent reduction in nodule size, and significant improvement in obstructive symptoms or cosmesis (improved swallowing, reduces bulging neck).

Speaking further towards the new service, Dr. Bachar Afandi, Chief of Endocrinology, at Tawam Hospital, said, “At SEHA, we are constantly in search of providing new breakthroughs for our patients that can help improve outcomes and quality of life. By offering this new treatment at Tawam Hospital, we truly believe it will change the management of benign thyroid nodules, improving outcomes for a subset of patients with symptomatic, non-cancerous thyroid nodules, when surgery is considered too risky, or rejected by patients. Additionally, patients who undergo the procedure are extremely unlikely to require permanent thyroid hormone medication.”

Dr. Jamal AlKoteesh, Chairman of Clinical Imaging at Tawam Hospital, Head of Interventional Radiology Clinical Reference group at SEHA – Abu Dhabi, said: “There is tremendous potential for this emerging technology. This procedure isn’t widely available yet outside major hospitals, and it won’t be appropriate for everyone, but it gives patients a reasonable alternative to surgery. It’s not as definitive as surgery, but it’s still very effective with minimal side effects. Thyroid nodules are very common and, although many people will never require any intervention for their nodules, there is a significant minority who will seek treatment due to symptoms. I expect Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) to be a transformative new option for patients.”

Thyroid Radiofrequency and Microwave Ablation should be opted for patients at high surgical risk and thyroid compression symptoms (airway compression, hoarseness due to vocal cord paralysis, difficulty in swallowing due to esophageal compression). The procedure is also favorable in patients exhibiting cosmesis (appearance of a lump or bulge in the neck), enlarging thyroid nodules with surgery ruled out, autonomously functioning thyroid nodules (AFTN), recurrent thyroid cancers, or those with high surgical risk.

Elaborating on his experience with the procedure, the patient said, “I have been suffering for several years, being unable to perform basic functions such as swallowing, it’s been terrible. Today, following the procedure, my life has changed substantially. I am immensely grateful to the team at Tawam Hospital for their professionality, compassion, and expertise.”