Pilates studio owner Tonya Amos needs her body to run her business. But the former professional dancer started feeling intense pain. A visit to her doctor revealed the cause. Tonya had several fibroids - one of them as large as a grapefruit.
She said she heard over and over was she needed a hysterectomy. She said that wasn’t an option for her. Doctor Vanessa Jacoby is studying new ways to shrink fibroids - without major surgery.
With M-R Guided Focused Ultrasound, an ultrasound beam focuses on the fibroid and creates heat, burning the fibroid cells and destroying them.
Another method - laparoscopic radiofrequency ablation - requires three tiny incisions. A probe is placed in the fibroid. Radiofrequency energy is used to burn the fibroid cells.
With a hysterectomy, there's a three to six week recovery. The ultrasound therapy is just two days. And the ablation - about a week. Tonya had the ultrasound treatment. It shrunk her fibroids. And she says it feels like she has her body back again.
BACKGROUND: Uterine fibroids are benign tumors made up of muscle cells and other tissue that grow within the wall of the uterus. The tumors can vary in size and number and are more common in African American women. Fibroids are the most common type of uterine tumor affecting 25 percent of childbearing women. Some estimates say up to 75 percent of women will have a fibroid at some point in their life. Signs and symptoms of fibroids include heavy or abnormal bleeding, pain, pelvic cramping or pressure and bloating. Uterine fibroids have been associated with infertility, miscarriage and early onset of labor. (www.mayoclinic.com)
TYPES: There are three different types of uterine fibroids that can occur:
- Inramural: The most common type of fibroid. They are found in the wall of the uterus and cause heavier than normal menstrual bleeding, pelvic pain, back pain or generalized pressure.
- Submucosal: This is the least common type of fibroid, but often times the most problematic. Submucosal fibroids are found in the muscle beneath the inner lining of the uterus.
- Subserosal: These fibroids grow on the outside of the uterus' wall and can become very large. They typically don't affect menstrual cycle, but then can cause significant pelvic and back pain as well as generalized pressure. (Source: www.womenshelath.gov)
NEW TECHNOLOGY: There are now two new ways to treat fibroids, so patients don’t have to choose between a hysterectomy and a myomectomy. One of the treatments is called MR-guided focused ultrasound. Using an MRI machine, an ultrasound beam is focused on the fibroid. The high heat kills the fibroid cells, and will slowly shrink it over a period of a few months. The other technique is called laparoscopic radiofrequency ablation. Doctors cut two tiny incisions in the abdomen and insert an ablation tool. Again using an MRI, the doctors determine where the ablation needs to take place, then use radiofrequencies to destroy the fibroid cells. It’s generally an out-patient procedure, and patients go home the same day. Recovery time is usually about a week. (Source: Dr. Vanessa Jacoby)
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University of California, San Fransisco