At the April 2006 annual meeting of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE), Roberto Valcavi, MD, Director of the Thyroid Disease Center in Reggio Emilia, Italy reported on his Center's use of this new treatment.
According to Valcavi, treatment of thyroid nodules with the thyroid hormone replacement drug levothyroxine, the traditional treatment for nodules, has been shown to be ineffective in numerous studies. The other popular approach, removal of part of all of the thyroid surgically, can have some complications, including hypocalcemia or damage to vocal cords.
Valcavi reported on a study of 119 women who underwent the new procedure. In laser treatment, optic fibers are placed alongside the nodule using ultrasound guidance, and then illuminated with a laser.
Patients received light sedation (i.e., Valium), and the procedure typically took 30 minutes. This is compared to traditional surgery, which involves general anesthesia, and requires at least an hour.
Both types of surgery have the potential for nerve damage, but it's less common in the laser surgery.
Source: Doctor's Guide