Two new ways to fix fibroids without major surgery

Fibroids are non-cancerous tumors that affect about 25 percent of reproductive-aged women.

They are the most common reason women have hysterectomies. But now, there are new ways to fix the fibroids that don't involve major surgery.

Tonya Amos former professional dancer and the owner of Pilates Studio. She started feeling intense pain, and a visit to her doctor revealed the cause.

Tonya described the conversation: "She said, 'Does this hurt?' and she pushed on my abdomen. And I said, 'Yeah, that hurts.’ And she said, 'Yeah, that's a fibroid!’”

She had several fibroids - one of them as large as a grapefruit.

"What I heard over and over and over was ‘You need a hysterectomy.’ That was not an option for me, was not interested!" she said.

Doctor Vanessa Jacoby is studying new ways to shrink fibroids - without major surgery. With MR guided focused ultrasound, an ultrasound beam focuses on the fibroid and creates heat that burns the fibroid cells and destroys them, the doctor explained.

Another method, laparoscopic radiofrequency ablation, requires three tiny incisions. A probe is placed in the fibroid.

"We use radiofrequency energy to burn the fibroid cells," said Jacoby.

With a hysterectomy, there's a three-to-six week recovery. The ultrasound therapy is just two days, and the ablation is about a week.

Tonya had the ultrasound treatment and it shrunk her fibroids

“It feels like my body again, I got my body back!" she said.

Jacoby said not all patients with fibroids are candidates for these two new treatments.

It depends on the size, location, and number of fibroids

REPORT: MB # 3775

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. (
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:

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)

Stephanie Lemp
Research Coordinator
University of California, San Fransisco
(415) 297-3114

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