New treatments for fibroids

May 6, 2010 3:08:54 PM PDT
Fibroids are a common problem. It's estimated one out of every four women get them. They can be so problematic that a hysterectomy is the treatment of choice, but there are much less invasive options.

Women who don't want to have a hysterectomy can now consider several newer procedures. Not all doctors prefer all procedures, so it may take some research to find the one that is right for you. And with fibroids, not all women respond to treatments the same way.

"Hysterectomy is still a good option for some women, but for women who want to have children, or for women who want to keep their uterus, hysterectomy is not a good choice," Dr. Elizabeth Stewart of the Mayo Clinic.

Ellen Eward is a marathon runner, and a hysterectomy would have kept her off her feet for at least six weeks. But Ellen's symptoms were severe.

"It got to the point where my stomach was getting bigger," Eward said.

Fibroids are non-cancerous tumors of the uterine wall. Ellen had one that was large and pushing against her bladder, making it hard to urinate. She also had heavy bleeding, so Ellen considered three minimally invasive alternatives to hysterectomy.

1) A laparoscopic or robotic myomectomy during which doctors remove the fibroid with microscopic tools. It's a good option if you only have one fibroid.

2) Uterine artery embolization is a procedure during which doctors insert small pellets into the artery leading to the uterus. The pellets cut off blood supply to the uterus, destroying multiple fibroids.

3) Focused ultrasound. This procedure involves administering sound waves that break up the fibroids. Ellen chose this option.

"I asked all the crucial questions. You know, what happens afterwards? How long will it take? If you compare this to a hysterectomy, how long will I be in the hospital? And she says, there's no down time and you'll get immediate relief. And I said, no way?" Eward said.

But for Ellen, that's exactly what happened. She was symptom-free and able to run just days after the procedure.

The focused ultrasound is not as commonly used as the other as initially it was used only for smaller fibroids, but now it is being used for larger fibroid.

All these procedures have the downside that new fibroids may form down the line.

Another procedure which uses radiofrequency is now in clinical trials.

We'll be looking into that in the next few weeks and we'll have more on the studies of this possible treatment.

The researchers at the mayor clinic are researching how best to fit women with the right option for them.

The only real downside to these newer procedures is that new fibroids may form afterwards.

Radiofrequency Ablation: This is a new treatment in which the Montefiore-Einstein Fibriod Center is the only facility in the tri-state area offering this new laparoscopic ablation of fibroid tumors under a study protocol. If you are interested or might be interested in this study, call the Fibriod Center or the study coordinators at 718-405-8396, 718-405-8022, or 718-405-8023, or click on this link for a flyer containing further information.

Fibroids can cause different symptoms in different women and not all women respond to treatment the same way. So Dr. Stewart and colleagues are researching these options to find out which ones are best for the different symptoms.

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