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Ethanol ablation

Patient information on obliteration of thyroid nodules and cysts (ethanol ablation)

About ethanol ablation of thyroid cysts

Around half of all thyroid nodules have considerable cystic properties to some extent and pure cysts (liquid-filled cavities) are often found in the thyroid gland. Although largely benign, even small cysts cause discomfort, including a feeling of pressure or difficulties swallowing. Initial treatment consists of ultrasound-guided puncture and suction to remove the liquid. Unfortunately, either the cysts refill or internal bleeding occurs in 80 percent of cases. In addition to surgical treatment, for the first time in Upper Austria, the Linz thyroid practice now offers ethanol ablation as a minimally invasive procedure for treating cysts.

Ethanol ablation is now recognised by many renowned scientific organisations (European Thyroid Association, American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, etc.) as a standard treatment for benign cysts. The treatment is successful in over 90 percent of all cases.

Local anaesthesia is first placed under the skin so that the short procedure can be performed virtually pain-free. Using guidance by ultrasound, an aspiration needle is inserted into the cyst and the content almost completely emptied with a syringe. Following that, the original cyst is filled with a 95% ethanol solution up to half of the original volume. The ethanol, which remains in the cyst for 2 minutes and is then completely aspirated, causes chemical damage to the cyst walls, causing them to stick together.  It is therefore extremely unlikely that the “obliterated” cyst will refill.

Radiofrequency ablation (obliteration) is a more effective treatment for nodules that are both cystic and solid.

The procedures lasts just a few minutes, is virtually pain-free and does not leave any scars. At € 350 the costs are relatively low compared to surgical treatment.

Health insurance schemes make decisions regarding reimbursement on a case-by-case basis. Most supplemental insurance policies cover the costs of the procedure, depending on the contract concluded.







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