Reporting Dr. Maria Simbra
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Edna Annan is about to have surgery to take care of fibroids, but she’s not having a hysterectomy.
The 35-year-old mother of three decided a few months ago, enough is enough.
“It’s been bothering me for a while and it’s getting worse,” she says.
Millions of women have fibroids, or benign growths on the uterus. These can be painful and cause heavy bleeding. More than 200,000 women in the U.S. have hysterectomies every year to get relief.
This new procedure involves inserting a needle through the abdomen and into the fibroid. Electrical current runs through and destroys it.
“It looks like a little star; little spikes sort of extend out. It kind of microwaves whatever is immediately around it,” says Dr. Gordon McLean, an interventional radiologist at Allegheny General Hospital. “This is a technique that has been used for some time for individual tumors, say, in the liver.”
This use for fibroids was FDA approved just a few months ago.
“It’s approved by FDA, which means the FDA has said this particular technology is good for this particular problem,” continues Dr. McLean.
“Opens up a whole new door for women because historically if you wanted something that would spare the uterus and be targeted directly to the fibroids, you were somewhat limited in what would be available to you,” says Dr. Scott Chudnoff, of Montefiore Medical Center in New York, where the first cases have been done since FDA approval.
Medications to shrink the fibroids, zapping them with ultrasound, cutting off their blood supply, or just removing the uterus surgically (a hysterectomy) — these have been the options so far.
After invasive surgery, recovery can be weeks. With this procedure, patients usually go home the same day with little pain and back to regular activities within five days.
“I’m doing really good,” says Edna.
Edna says it didn’t take her long for her to get back to taking care of her children. Right now, this procedure is not recommended for women who plan to have children later.