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First U.S. Uterine Fibroid Embolization Patient Celebrates Daughter’s 6th Birthday, Praises Procedure for Making Pregnancy Possible

Milestone Further Proves Technique is Viable Alternative to Hysterectomy and Myomectomy, Allows Pregnancy

LOS ANGELES, May 2 — This spring the first woman in the U.S. to receive uterine fibroid embolization (UFE), Los Angeles resident Natalie Hunter, celebrates her daughter’s 6th birthday, an event that would have been impossible had she not received this treatment 11 years ago.

When Hunter was diagnosed with fibroids in 1994, she was 37 and planning to start a family, but the only treatment options available to women with fibroids were major surgeries that often result in infertility. She sought treatment from obstetrician/gynecologist and UCLA faculty member Dr. Bruce McLucas, who along with his team then successfully performed the first UFE in the U.S. on Hunter. After the procedure, Hunter’s heavy bleeding stopped immediately, her fibroids began to shrink, symptoms lessoned and eventually disappeared. Five years later she gave birth to her first child, Lauren, an event uncommon for fibroid patients post-surgery at that time. Since 1994, McLucas and the Fibroid Treatment Collective (FTC) have performed more than 2,000 UFE and have seen a 30% pregnancy rate among their patients.

“I am deeply indebted to the FTC for their progressive approach to fibroid treatment and dedication to preventing unnecessary invasive surgeries for women with fibroids,” said Hunter, whose fibroids caused her to bleed excessively prior to receiving the UFE procedure. “If not for their forward thinking, we would not be celebrating Lauren’s birthday today. In essence, FTC not only potentially saved my life, they also made Lauren’s possible.”

Since last November when national news outlets reported Condoleezza Rice had UFE, more and more women are choosing the procedure over a hysterectomy or myomectomy for the treatment of uterine fibroids. UFE is minimally invasive and requires less recovery time; and, recent evidence points to a third advantage — the possibility of pregnancy. A study reported in the March 2005 British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology suggests that UFE does not complicate pregnancy as previously thought. Fifty-three pregnancies were brought to term out of 43 women who received UFE in the study.

“We are thrilled to see that more women are learning about the advantages of UFE over traditional fibroid surgery,” said FTC founder, Dr. Bruce McLucas, who performed Hunter’s UFE and today remains one of the nation’s foremost authorities on the subject. “Recent studies are affirming what Natalie Hunter and hundreds of our patients have known for several years — that UFE is a safe and viable alternative to hysterectomy and myomectomy, and it provides the best chance for pregnancy among the three options.”

Fibroids are noncancerous growths that develop in the walls of the uterus and affect 40% of all women in America. They also have a high rate of incidence among African Americans. Every year, thousands of women will undergo invasive surgeries, including hysterectomies, for fibroids. UFE is an alternative, non-surgical treatment that can provide proven relief, without the pain, downtime and side effects of traditional surgeries.

About UFE

UFE is a non-invasive, non-surgical, out-patient procedure. It is performed under local anesthetic and has a very quick recovery time. Most patients are back at work in a few days, while recovery from hysterectomy can last six to eight weeks. Embolization requires a very small incision, about the size of a freckle, which is made in the upper thigh. A tiny catheter is inserted through this incision and into the femoral artery. Using x-ray guidance, a trained physician locates the feeder vessels which supply blood to each fibroid. Microscopic inert particles are injected into the vessels, blocking blood supply that nourishes the fibroid. Without a steady blood supply, the fibroids begin to dwindle and shrink. Embolization in essence cures fibroids by starving them.

About Dr. Bruce McLucas and the Fibroid Treatment Collective (FTC)

Dr. Bruce McLucas led the first team to perform uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) in the U.S. in 1994. Since then, he has successfully treated more than 2,000 fibroids patients with the procedure. McLucas is one of the few gynecologists in the nation who routinely performs UFE.

A concern for the number of hysterectomies being unnecessarily performed and the disadvantages of myomectomy surgeries led Dr. McLucas to become an active advocate for UFE and to found the Fibroid Treatment Collective (FTC), a medical group of fibroid experts — the only multi-disciplinary team in the U.S. — dedicated to curing fibroids with minimally invasive therapy. FTC is based at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) Hospital and Medical School campus.

McLucas serves as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at UCLA. He is a graduate of Yale Medical School and a board certified obstetrician and gynecologist. McLucas is also one of the most cited scientists publishing on UFE. To learn more about McLucas, the FTC and UFE, visit

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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