It seemed things were going great for Margaret Thom. The Mukwonago resident was working full time for a national nonprofit, and she had so much get-up-and-go that her husband, Brian, thought she had endless energy. The truth was, she felt she wasn’t firing on all cylinders.  

“I was losing weight and was sensitive to heat,” Margaret said. “My body was actually warm to the touch. And sometimes, it felt like my heart was racing.”  

A visit to an endocrinologist in another health network revealed she had a benign, overactive thyroid nodule. Margaret was put on medication, but after several years, she was advised to discontinue it. “It was decreasing my white blood cell count, and my doctors were worried it was lowering my immune resistance,” she said.

An Alternative Treatment for Overactive Thyroid

Margaret was offered radioactive iodine therapy or surgery. She was not keen on either. Margaret did some research and made an appointment to see Tracy Wang, MD, MPH, surgical oncologist and Medical College of Wisconsin faculty member.  

“Dr. Wang said I was a candidate for radiofrequency ablation, an option no one else had told me about,” Margaret said. 

Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) 

Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) uses radio waves to heat and kill tissue. Guided by ultrasound, a special needle electrode is placed in the nodule. A current passes through the electrode to heat and ablate — or eliminate — the nodule. Dr. Wang referred Margaret to Sophie Dream, MD, surgical oncologist and MCW faculty member, who conducted Margaret’s procedure. 

“Every centimeter in your neck has some critical structure, but with RFA, we can go in and burn a very small area,” Dr. Dream said. “Now that we’ve eliminated the cells that were secreting too much hormone, Margaret will not need medication or surgery.” 

Natalie Lang, DNP, surgical nurse practitioner, played a key role in Margaret’s care. 

“I help patients with any questions they have and am their main point of contact for follow-up,” Lang said. “I work with Dr. Dream to make sure we are doing everything we can to help each patient.” 

“Dr. Dream and Natalie were so knowledgeable, professional and kind,” Margaret said. “That reassured me and helped me make the decision to have RFA.”