Korean J Radiol.  2020 Jun;21(6):764-772. 10.3348/kjr.2019.0798.

Twelve-Month Volume Reduction Ratio Predicts Regrowth and Time to Regrowth in Thyroid Nodules Submitted to Laser Ablation: A 5-Year Follow-Up Retrospective Study

  • 1Division of Endocrinology, “V. Fazzi” Hospital, Lecce, Italy
  • 2Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Mauriziano Hospital Umberto I, Turin, Italy
  • 3United Technologies Research Center, Trento, Italy
  • 4Department of Nuclear Medicine and Thyroid Centre, Ente Ospedaliero Cantonale, Bellinzona, Switzerland


Laser ablation is a therapeutic modality used to reduce the volume of large benign thyroid nodules. Unsatisfactory reduction and regrowth are observed in some treated nodules. The aim of the study was to evaluate the long-term outcomes of laser treatment for solid nodules during a 5-year follow-up period, the regrowth rate, and the predictive risk factors of nodule regrowth.
Materials and Methods
We retrospectively evaluated patients with benign, solid, cold thyroid nodules who underwent laser ablation and were followed-up for 5 years. According to the selection criteria, 104 patients were included (median baseline nodule volume, 12.5 mL [25.0–75.0%, 8–18 mL]; median energy delivered, 481.5 J/mL [25.0–75.0%, 370–620 J/mL]). Nodule volume, thyroid function test results, and ultrasound were evaluated at baseline and then annually after the procedure.
Of 104 patients, 31 patients (29.8%) had a 12-month volume reduction ratio (VRR) < 50.0% and 39 (37.5%) experienced nodule regrowth. Of these 39 patients, 17 (43.6%) underwent surgery and 14 (35.9%) underwent a second laser treatment. The rate of nodule regrowth was inversely related to the 12-month VRR, i.e., the lower the 12-month VRR, the higher the risk of regrowth (p < 0.001). The mean time for nodule regrowth was 33.5 ± 16.6 months. The 12-month VRR was directly related to time to regrowth, i.e., the lower the 12-month VRR, the shorter the time to regrowth (p < 0.001; R2 = 0.3516). Non-spongiform composition increased the risk of regrowth with an odds ratio of 4.3 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.8–10.2; p < 0.001); 12-month VRR < 50.0% increased the risk of regrowth with an odds ratio of 11.7 (95% CI 4.2–32.2; p < 0.001).
The VRR of thyroid nodules subjected to similar amounts of laser energy varies widely and depends on the nodule composition; non-spongiform nodules are reduced to a lesser extent and regrow more frequently than spongiform nodules. A 12-month VRR < 50.0% is a predictive risk factor for regrowth and correlates with the time to regrowth.


Thyroid; Laser; Thermal ablation; Nodule; Ultrasound
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