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Int J Hyperthermia. 2017 Dec;33(8):875-881. doi: 10.1080/02656736.2017.1318456. Epub 2017 Apr 24.

High-intensity focused ablation (HIFU) of single benign thyroid nodule rarely alters underlying thyroid function.

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a Department of Surgery , The University of Hong Kong , Hong Kong SAR , PR China.
b Department of Medicine , The University of Hong Kong , Hong Kong SAR , PR China.
c Department of Radiology , The University of Hong Kong , Hong Kong SAR , PR China.



High intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) is a promising ablation technique for benign thyroid nodules. However, its effect on underlying thyroid function remains unknown. We aimed to evaluate the 6 months changes in serum thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) and free thyroxine (FT4) after HIFU treatment.


Eighty-three consecutive patients who underwent single HIFU ablation for symptomatic benign thyroid nodule were analysed. Eligible patients had serum TSH and FT4 checked before treatment (baseline), 1 week, 3 and 6 months following HIFU treatment. Primary endpoints were hypothyroidism (FT4 < 12 pmol/L) and hyperthyroidism (FT4 > 23 pmol/L) in the 6 months following treatment. To express extent of nodule ablation relative to the total gland volume, an ablation volume ratio was calculated by [(Ablated nodule volume/total thyroid volume)/(total thyroid volume)] × 100.


Relative to baseline, 1-week serum TSH significantly dropped (from 1.16 to 0.76 mIU/L, p < 0.001) while 1-week serum FT4 significantly rose (from 16.0 to 17.8 pmol/L, p < 0.001). However, 3- and 6-months TSH and FT4 did not changed significantly from baseline (p > 0.05). No patients developed hyperthyroidism while one (1.4%) developed hypothyroidism (FT4 = 11 pmol/L) at 3 months and 6 months. Interestingly, this patient had a previous lobectomy and an ablation volume ratio of 64.00%.


Hypothyroidism following single HIFU ablation occurred rarely (1.4%) and resulted in little clinical relevance. Given that only one patient developed hypothyroidism following single HIFU ablation, it remains unclear how patients with different amount of parenchyma and relative extent of ablation may affect subsequent thyroid function.


Focused ultrasound; hypothyroidism; thermal ablation; thyroid dysfunction; thyroid nodule

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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