The standard treatment regimen for locally recurrent lesions is total thyroidectomy, or complete removal of the recurrent thyroid lesion within the thyroid bed. However, reoperation increases the risk of complications and patients have to undergo general anesthesia. Percutaneous ethanol injection therapy represents a far less invasive procedure without general anesthesia and with lower risk of complications. Thirty-four patients who received PEIT at Yonsei University Medical Center between October 2002 and August 2009 for recurrent cervical nodal metastases of differentiated papillary thyroid cancer were included in this retrospective study. During a minimum follow-up of 60 months, treatment outcomes were determined by measuring the lesion size prior to the first injection and 3 months after the last injection. A total of 46 recurrent lesions were detected in 34 patients. Five patients underwent surgery and PEIT was administered to the remaining 19 and 22 lesions in the central compartment and lateral neck lymph nodes, respectively. Size increases were observed in seven (17.1%) lesions, whereas no changes in size and decreases were detected in 10 (24.4%) and 24 (58.5%) lesions. Patients with increased lymph nodes were significantly older (65.3 ± 14.4 vs. 48.2 ± 16.3 years; p = 0.02) and had smaller sizes (9.3 ± 1.0 vs. 12.3 ± 6.4 mm; p = 0.012). Although reoperation remains the first-line treatment for recurrent thyroid cancer, PEIT may be considered as a treatment option in selected patients with lesions larger than 1 cm who are ineligible for surgery or have refused reoperation.
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