Meet Richard Guttler of Santa Monica Thyroid Ablation Center
Today we’d like to introduce you to Richard Guttler.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Richard. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
With no family members to give me direction, I graduated from high school with no idea about going on to college until a buddy of mine at the last minute said we should go to Navy Pier. It was the temporary home U of Illinois at Chicago at the time. I was in liberal arts and met a young kid who sat next to me in German class. He told me that I should switch to pre-med. Well that was the beginning of my medical life. I had ADHD and did not know it then. That was why I always waited until the very last minute to do anything. Again, a last minute switch to endocrinology from cardiology was the chance to meet my mentor. I trained in thyroidology at Keck/USC medical school and opened my practice afterward. I refused to follow the herd and become a general endocrinologist. I finally found my place. I would work my whole time in practice trying to decrease unnecessary thyroid surgery for patients who could be treated by alternative methods. In 2017, we see how many patients have been over-diagnosed and treated with surgery, radiation, and thyroid hormone for suspicious thyroid cancer and for mild thyroid cancer that can be treated with less invasive methods. My present center is dedicated to use of thyroid ethanol ablation PEI, Thyroid radiofrequency ablation RFA, as a founding member of the Thyroid Ablation Society of America formed in Boston this year at the World Thyroid Cancer Congress, we will work to continue to help patients who are told surgery or radiation is their only options, I am helping bring thyroid RFA to the United States. I have been involved in every major breakthrough that helps patients avoid the unnecessary. From nodule needle biopsy cytology in the 70’s, endocrine neck thyroid ultrasound in the 90’s, to molecular marker testing for cancer DNA in 2010, to the present push for alternative treatments with PEI and RFA in 2017.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
As a first hybrid physician cross-trained in all aspects of thyroidology, I had problems at first getting other physicians to send me cases. I traveled between 10 hospitals in Los Angeles sitting in Doctor’s dining rooms and talking about thyroid disease, and telling them I was available to see their patients. Over 5 years with a half time LAC/USC county job I finally had enough referrals.
The next big problem was the change of insurance. That was solved by quitting Medicare and forming one of the first thyroid website (thyroid.com) in 1996.
It is the major way I have built an international following. The website has been the premier site for all things alternative to the standard thyroid surgery. It brings patients from many countries who do not want surgery or at least a second opinion.
Santa Monica Thyroid Ablation Center – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I am an interventional thyroidologist. I do ethanol ablation of thyroid and parathyroid cysts, thyroid cancer recurrent lymph nodes, small primary thyroid cancer instead of surgery or long term surveillance. I am presently heading up the introduction of thyroid RFA into the USA.
Thyroid RFA is for solid and cystic nodules, primary micro-cancers, and hot nodules. RFA for other diseases in the USA uses a very large electrode that is not acceptable for delicate work around the neck. I am a trained thyroid only cytologist from early in the use of this to diagnose thyroid cancer
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
It is following your dreams and helping patients to not have to go through the costly, painful and complications of thyroid surgery when they are found by my evaluation to disagree with their physicians that surgery is not needed.
Even one patient that I save from surgery, or one that I tell them they do not have cancer as it was over-diagnosed. Also, one case that has a form of follicular tumor that was been downgraded from cancer to benign is a success in my book.