Aim: Autonomous thyroid nodules are conventionally treated by surgery or radioiodine. Percutaneous ethanol injection is a recognized alternative approach. An assessment of the long-term success and safety was conducted. Material and Methods: Thirty-four patients (seven men and 27 women; age range: 32-80 years; mean: 56 ± 13 years) with an autonomous thyroid nodule (ATN) > 40 ml (volume range 41-180 ml; mean: 63.6 ± 34.5 ml) were treated with ultrasound-guided percutancous ethanol injection (PEI). All patients were hyperthyroid with increased radionuclide uptake in the nodule at scintigraphy. Serial serum (free T3, free T4 and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH)) and ultrasound studies were performed at 3, 6, 12, 18, 24 and 36 months after the first PEI session. Scintigraphy was performed before treatment and 1 month after the serum TSH became detectable or alternatively after 6 months, even if the TSH was still undetectable. Results: Each patient had 1-11 sessions of PEI, with an injection of 3-14 ml of ethanol per session (total amount of ethanol per patient: 20-125 ml). Within 3 months from the end of the treatment, the recovery of extranodular uptake on isotope scan and the normalization of TSH levels were observed in 30/34 patients. A reduction (average: 62.9%) of nodule volume was recorded in all patients and only 4/34 patients were refractory to PEI. The responsiveness of ATN to PEI appeared to be dependent on the initial nodule volume (3/4 failures in patients had nodule volumes > 60 ml). Side-effects were always self-limiting. During follow-up (6-36 months) no recurrence was observed. Conclusion: In conclusion, the treatment of ATN > 40 ml with PEI would appear to be a valid alternative approach to traditional methods of treatment. It is safe, well tolerated and inexpensive. Its acceptability when compared with surgery and radiodioine has still to be assessed.
- Ethonal injection
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging