New Uterine Fibroid Procedure More Important Now Than Ever

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Every year, 600,000 women undergo hysterectomy surgery, a procedure that removes the uterus. That’s a staggering 12 women every 10 minutes. One-third of these women — four every 10 minutes — have their uterus removed to treat uterine fibroids, potentially painful tumors that develop in the womb and which can cause such symptoms as abnormal menstrual bleeding, lower back pain, and abdominal pressure.Now, 7NEWS Denver reports that women may have another option, one that doesn’t involve removing the uterus.

For over two years now, Christina Simon has played tennis through the pain of her fibroid, which is the size of a baby’s head, telling 7NEWS Denver that “The doctor told me I was beginning to look pregnant.”
At first, the only option Simon had was a hysterectomy, but she soon learned of fibroid embolization, or UFE. The procedure involves inserting a catheter into an artery in the groin, and using real-time imagery, guiding it as it releases minuscule particles into the uterine arteries that supply blood to fibroids, thusly blocking the flow of blood to the tumors. This causes the fibroids to eventually die, and shrink away.

Having such an alternative is more important than ever, as a study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology in January found that about 20% of all hysterectomies performed in the U.S. are done needlessly. Even worse, the researchers found that almost 40% of women weren’t told about alternative treatments, such as UFE.

“This study provides evidence that alternatives to hysterectomy are underutilized in women undergoing hysterectomy for abnormal uterine bleeding, uterine fibroids, endometriosis, or pelvic pain,” said senior author Daniel Morgan.

Although doctors may argue that the hysterectomy is the only way to ensure the elimination of fibroid and to prevent them from coming back, UFE’s efficacy has been proven. About 85-90% of women who have undergone a UFE have said it significantly improved their symptoms. Simon’s fibroid shrunk down to half its size within two months, allowing her to return to the tennis court.

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