Intrauterine Fibroids Can Now Be Treated Nonsurgically

At least a quarter of all women suffer in agony every month from intrauterine fibroids. Now, a new type of fibroid treatment could help put an end to the pain and get them back to their lives in just a couple days.

Intrauterine fibroids are noncancerous tumors inside the uterus that cause extremely painful and heavy periods.

Until now, the only choices were a hysterectomy, fibroid surgery, or a uterine artery embolization that blocks the blood supply to the fibroids and tries to kill them.

These procedures would mean a couple of weeks, maybe months, of recovery. The Food and Drug Administration is about to approve a brand new, noninvasive treatment that is quick, easy, practically pain-free and that would drastically reduce recovery time.

“It is, first of all, noninvasive in that it doesn’t require a surgical incision. It doesn’t require any probe placement into the fibroids and that allows outpatient treatment so that women can come in the morning and then go home about midday,” said Dr. Elizabeth Stewart, the lead investigator for the FDA.

The procedure is called thermal ablation therapy. Using a magnetic resonance imaging scan to see the uterus in detail, doctors precisely focus ultrasound beams on the fibroid. The heat of the intersecting energy beams essentially cooks the tumor.

“The MRI machine lets you see the fibroid, see the borders, see all the other important tissue around it, but it also allows you to monitor temperature. Many other temperature-related therapies in the past have not done well, probably because you couldn’t gauge the temperature,” Stewart said.

Ablation therapy is also currently being studied as a treatment for breast tumors and it is being considered as a possible future treatment for other types of benign and malignant tumors.

Virtua West Jersey Hospital will be one of the first in the nation to get the new technology.

Dr. Thomas Kay, a Virtua Health obstetrician and gynecologist, says that for women who suffer the pain of intrauterine fibroids, thermal ablation therapy will be a great option.

“When you’re talking about going from two to three weeks, down to a day or two, that’s a major difference,” Kay said.

For more information on thermal ablation therapy call (888) VIRTUA-3.

As an educational service, members of the FTC provide questions and answers regarding fibroids. Please note that the questions and answers are not medical advice and there is no substitute for diagnosis and, where appropriate, treatment by a qualified and licensed physician of your own choosing.


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