The effect of laser thermal ablation on quality of life: Improvements in patients with solid-cystic thyroid nodules

Jesper Roed Sorensen, Helle Døssing, Torquil Watt, Per Karkov Cramon, Laszlo Hegedus, Steen Joop Bonnema, Lars Folkestad


Background: Evidence of the efficacy of laser thermal ablation (LTA) in benign thyroid nodules is abundant. However, little is known about the effect on quality of life (QoL) of this treatment. Methods: Prospective cohort study investigating the effect of LTA before, three, and six months after LTA on QoL using the thyroid-specific patient-reported outcome (ThyPRO) measure. Patients receiving LTA (laser group [LG]) was compared with a well-characterized control group (CG) from the Danish civil registry. Results: The LG comprised 54 patients, with no age or sex differences compared with the CG (n = 739). Sixty-nine percent of the patients had a recurrent cystic thyroid nodule, 6% had a solid nodule, while the remaining 25% were of mixed character. The median nodule volume was 6.8 mL (interquartile range [IQR]: 4.0-11.1) before LTA, and 1.8 mL (IQR: 0.6-4.1) at 6 months post-LTA (p < 0.001), corresponding to a median reduction of 78%. All cystic fluid (median: 6 mL; IQR: 2.0-9.0) was aspirated before LTA. Median treatment time was 400 seconds (IQR: 300-600), applying a median energy of 823 J (IQR: 600-1200). At baseline and according to the ThyPRO scales, the LG differed significantly from the CG by having more goiter symptoms, hyperthyroid symptoms, tiredness, and cognitive complaints (p < 0.05 for all variables), but only the difference in the goiter symptom scale was of a clinically important magnitude. At three months, the LG experienced a large improvement in goiter symptoms (effect size [ES] = 1.05), a moderate improvement in cosmetic complaints (ES = 0.50), and a moderate improvement in the overall QoL (ES = 0.64). Only the improvements in the goiter symptom and the cosmetic complaint scales were clinically important. Six months after LTA, the anxiety scale showed further improvement of moderate size (ES = 0.52). At 6 months, the results above were maintained, and 79% of patients experienced a large and clinically important improvement in the goiter symptom scale and no clinically important differences were found between the LG and the CG. Conclusions: In this unblinded, prospective observational study, measures of disease-specific QoL were significantly improved compared with preprocedure levels, in patients with solid-cystic nodules.

Original languageEnglish
JournalThyroid : official journal of the American Thyroid Association
Issue number8
Pages (from-to)917-925
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022


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