How to avoid a hysterectomy - and other invasive procedures

September 04, 2007
Volume 04    |   Issue 36

If you have severe abdominal and leg pain, excessive menstrual bleeding, and bloating, they could be caused by uterine fibroids. And while these tumors aren?t cancerous, they can be uncomfortable enough for you to opt for surgery or other invasive procedures. This isn?t necessary any more.

There?s a new, noninvasive technique called magnetic resonance imaging guided focused ultrasound surgery - or MRgFUS. It?s an FDA-approved outpatient treatment that?s covered by many insurance programs. It shrinks the tumors and they don?t tend to grow back.

Uterine fibroids generally stop growing at menopause. But some post-menopausal women still produce enough estrogen and suffer from fibroids. If you can control them until a lack of hormones kicks in, you can avoid having invasive procedures. These include hysterectomy, laparoscopic surgery, or uterine artery embolization (plugging up the arteries that supply blood to the fibroids).

A hysterectomy offers a permanent solution to fibroids? symptoms, but the other techniques don?t. And up to one-third of women who have their tumors removed or have embolization are often surprised and dismayed to discover that there is a high incidence of tumor regrowth. This means going through the same invasive treatments ... again.

With MRgFUS, doctors use MRI images to identify the size and location of the tumors. Then, focused ultrasound, high-energy sound waves are pointed at the fibroids. Heat causes the blood supply to coagulate, which destroys the unwanted growths and leaves healthy tissues alone. And the tumors don?t come back.

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This new procedure is available at the Mayo Clinic and other facilities. For the latest information on this treatment and where you can get it, go to www.uterine-fibroids.org

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