What is an alcohol ablation?

An alcohol ablation, also known as an ultrasound-guided percutaneous ethanol injection (PEI), is a newer procedure that can be used to treat thyroid cancer. The procedure, which is performed by an interventional radiologist, is an alternative treatment for recurrent thyroid cancer. During the procedure, your doctor will inject a concentrated alcohol solution into the neck to eliminate cancerous cells.

Who is a candidate for alcohol ablation

An alcohol ablation is most appropriate for patients who have recurrent thyroid cancer. If you are a thyroid cancer survivor, but the thyroid cancer has returned and invaded five or fewer lymph nodes, you may be a candidate for an alcohol ablation.

Risks of alcohol ablation

The most common side effect of an alcohol ablation is a sore neck.

What to expect during alcohol ablation

During an alcohol ablation for thyroid cancer, your doctor will use imaging-guidance to inject a concentrated ethanol alcohol solution into the neck. The alcohol solution will cut off the blood supply to any malignant cells in the neck lymph nodes, causing them to die.

Depending on the success of the first procedure, you may need multiple treatment sessions.

Recovery after alcohol ablation

Most patients will spend one night in the hospital after an alcohol ablation. You can return to your normal activities when you return home. Your doctor will schedule a follow-up appointment to evaluate how effective the treatment was and if you need another treatment session.

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