Lifetime TV Strong Medicine Patient Files
- Created: October 15, 1997
- by: admin
By: Leslie Carlson
In embolization, a quarter-inch incision is made in the groin to allow a small catheter into the femoral artery. An interventional radiologist then guides the catheter to the uterus and injects tiny, harmless synthetic particles into the blood vessels that supply the fibroid with blood. The particles cut off the blood flow, causing the fibroid to shrink. This in turn causes the pain, bloating and bleeding to abate.
A study by Dr. Bruce McLucas of Century City Hospital and UCLA and Dr. Scott Goodwin, an interventional radiologist at UCLA, found that eight of 10 patients reported significant improvement with embolization. More cases have since been done showing success rates, he said.
“This is not a high-risk procedure,” McLucas said. “Patients are sedated but awake. They only need to be in the hospital for about six hours. All of the other procedures for removal of fibroids carry risks of infection, [the need for] transfusion, adhesion formation and injury to other structures. With embolization, the chance of infection is small and there are no adhesions.”
One drawback of embolization is that most patients experience severe pain and cramping afterward and require pain medication. About 25% of the women undergoing the procedure have stayed one night in the hospital because of this pain, McLucas said. Patients typically feel they are back to normal in a few days. Susan deBois, 51, was told by five doctors that she needed hysterectomy. She was ready to have the surgery for large fibroids when she heard about embolization. She was immediately receptive. “Embolization made so much sense,” she said. “It was not invasive surgery. I wasn’t losing my organs. I wouldn’t be off my feet for six weeks recovering.” DeBois, of Los Angeles, is pleased with the results, despite severe pain after the embolization. McLucas has followed about 100 patients and said there is no evidence that fibroids will grow back.
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.