A minimally invasive alternative to treating fibroids with hysterectomy
Heavy bleeding and painful periods, lower back pain and frequent urination. These all-too-common symptoms might be a clue you’re suffering from uterine fibroids.
Uterine fibroids, which are rarely cancerous, occur on the uterus or womb. While some women experience no symptoms due to the size and location of their fibroids, others may suffer back discomfort, cramping, bladder and fertility issues.
Traditionally, fibroid treatment has included medication, surgical removal or hysterectomy (removal of part or the entire uterus and sometimes other surrounding structures). A hysterectomy eliminates a woman’s chances of becoming pregnant, and recovery can take weeks.
Now, health care providers are offering an alternative minimally invasive fibroid procedure. By using radiofrequency ablation, physicians are able to shrink uterine fibroids, causing minimal harm to the uterus.
And what’s more – women are heading home and returning to work and normal life in less than two weeks.
“Treating fibroids in this way is wonderful for patients because the procedure doesn’t surgically alter the uterus, there is a low rate of recurrence and recovery is so rapid,” says Dr. Allan Ruby, an OB/GYN at Advocate South Suburban Hospital in Hazel Crest, Ill.
How does the minimally invasive outpatient procedure work?
First, two small incisions are made in the patient’s abdomen. Then, a laparoscopic ultrasound scope is used as a guide to identify the fibroid locations and sizes. A tool is advanced into the fibroids, and finally, radiofrequency energy is delivered directly to the fibroid to destroy it and leave the surrounding uterine tissue unharmed. This treatment works on fibroids of up to 11-12 centimeters.
“The beauty of the technology is that the ultrasound component allows us to see and treat fibroids that are not seen on imaging tests such as MRIs or regular ultrasounds,” says Dr. Ruby.
Once the procedure is complete, the treated fibroids shrink over time, and many patients report quick symptom relief – a large amount have experienced a decrease in bleeding as soon as their first menstrual period.
About the Author
Holly Brenza, health enews contributor, is the public affairs coordinator at Advocate Children's Hospital. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago. In her free time, Holly enjoys reading, watching the White Sox and Blackhawks, playing with her dog, Bear and running her cats' Instagram account, @strangefurthings.