Endocrine Head & Neck Surgery

Stanford Head & Neck Center

Make an Appointment

(650) 498-6000

Percutaneous Ethanol Injection (PEI)

What is Percutaneous Ethanol Injection (PEI)?

Percutaneous ethanol injection is a minimally invasive procedure used in select patients with recurrent thyroid cancer. It can be a useful treatment in those who have already had multiple surgeries and scar tissue, and have one or more small sites of disease. Your surgeon will first perform an ultrasound to assess the number, size, and location of the nodules, and discuss if you might be a good candidate.

The procedure itself is very similar to a fine needle biopsy and is performed in the office under local anesthesia. Your surgeon will use the ultrasound to guide a needle into the nodule, and then to inject a small amount of highly concentrated ethanol. The total duration is typically only a few minutes, and you are able to return to your normal activities immediately.

A mild burning sensation may occur as the ethanol is injected, but this dissipates quickly. Other risks are dependent on the location of the nodules relative to important structures in the neck, and your surgeon will discuss these with you prior to proceeding. In most cases, 2 or more treatments are needed to see a notable response.