Ultrasound-guided thermal ablation plays an important role in the management of thyroid disease. The objective of this study was to evaluate the feasibility, efficacy, and safety of thermal ablation for patients with solitary T1bN0M0 papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) who are ineligible for or unwilling to undergo surgery.

Materials and Methods

Data pertaining to 172 patients (38 males and 134 females) who received thermal ablation therapy at 12 hospitals between April 2015 and March 2020 were retrospectively analyzed. The mean duration of follow-up was 24.9 ± 14.1 months (range, 12–60). The technical feasibility, technical success, efficacy, and safety of treatment were analyzed. Postablation tumor size at various time points was compared with preablation measurement.


All patients selected for thermal ablation received enlarged ablation, according to contrast-enhanced ultrasound postablation. The maximum diameter and volume of ablation zone at 6, 12, 18, 24, 36, and 48 months postablation were significantly smaller than those recorded preablation (P < 0.05 for all). At the most recent follow-up, 106 (61.6%) tumors had completely disappeared. The rate of lymph node metastasis was 0.6% (1/172) and the incidence of new tumors was 1.2% (2/172). The overall complication rate was 5.2% (9/172) (major complications: 4.6% [8/172]; minor complications: 0.6% [1/172]). All major complications were relieved within 4 months postablation.


Thermal ablation may be a feasible, effective, and safe treatment option for patients with solitary T1bN0M0 PTC who are ineligible for or unwilling to undergo surgery. It may provide a novel treatment option for selected patients.