For many women who are suffering from health conditions that require hysterectomies, the procedure may seem a little frightening. Fibroids, common tumors along the uterine wall, are typically benign and develop in 25 percent of women of childbearing age. Later in life, statistics show at least 40 percent of women develop these tumors.
Hysterectomies Performed for Fibroid Removal
Hysterectomies are routinely performed to remove the fibroids from the uterus if the fibroid causes symptoms such as heavy bleeding, infertility or increased bowel or bladder pressure that can often result in constipation, bloating and increased urination. Most surgical treatments involve the complete removal of the uterus, and thousands of hysterectomies performed each year in the U.S. are directly related to fibroids. The surgery requires general anesthesia, can take up to two hours, often requires a stay on the hospital and may take as long as eight week for a patient to recover.
New Procedure Could Have Significant Benefits
However, a high-energy, focused ultrasound procedure can reportedly heat and destroy the fibroids without the need for anesthesia or invasive surgery, resulting in reduced recovery times and fewer risks of side effects of complications. A surgeon guides an ultrasound beam through Magnetic Resonance Imaging that provides the team with a complete view of the patient’s body. The procedure can be done in a few hours and only require light sedation, and patients have reported diminishing symptoms almost immediately.
The patient is required to lie in an MRI scanner on her stomach, and the surgeon directs her into place so that the fibroid is directly located over the ultrasound. The team then plots and guides the treatment using the MRI console located in an adjoining control room. While the procedure is not necessarily enjoyable as patients are required to remain still, the only discomfort noted by several women is that of boredom, coldness and slight twinges when the ultrasound beam bounces off of the pelvis.
Following a high-energy, focused ultrasound procedure, patients are typically allowed to go home immediately following the treatment. According to several gynecologists and obstetricians, the clinical trials involving this new technology show promise, and the emitting of sound waves to eliminate life-threatening conditions or cancers can prove to be an effective alternative to traditional surgical procedures.
However, it is important to note that in order for the procedure to be successful in treating uterine fibroids, the tumors must be relatively small and be located on the front of the woman’s uterus without bowel obstruction. Occasionally, a woman may notice slight bruising, skin burns, minor pain or redness, but these side effects and mild complications typically resolve themselves within seven to 10 days. Fibroids that are removed using this technology will not develop again, but there may also be a slight risk of new ones developing; there is little that a woman can do to completely eliminate her risk of experiencing these tumors for the duration of her life.