Uterine fibroids: Promising new minimally invasive treatment using high-energy ultrasound waves
MR-guided focused ultrasound offers women another minimally invasive treatment to remove uterine fibroids-avoiding surgical myomectomy and hysterectomy.
A study of more than 100 patients shows that women can get lasting relief from uterine fibroid-related symptoms with MRgFUS-thus avoiding myomectomy, the surgical removal of uterine fibroids, or hysterectomy, major abdominal surgery to remove the uterus, say researchers at the Society of Interventional Radiology's 35th Annual Scientific Meeting in Tampa, Fla.
"MRgFUS is newer than another interventional radiology fibroid treatment-uterine fibroid embolization or UFE-a widely available treatment that blocks blood flow to fibroid tumors. Our results with effectiveness of MRgFUS technology are promising and comparable with that of UFE, but its longer-term effectiveness needs continued study," said Hesley.
"Today, women have interventional radiology options that do not involve the use of a scalpel incision. Women should ask for a consult with an interventional radiologist who can determine from MR imaging whether they are candidates for either procedure," she added.
Twenty to 40 percent of women age 35 and older have uterine fibroids of a significant size. African-American women are at a higher risk for fibroids: as many as 50 percent have fibroids of a significant size.
MRI also enables the physician to monitor tissue temperature in real-time to ensure adequate-but safe-heating of the target. Immediate imaging of the treated area following MRgFUS helps the physician determine the success of the treatment. The procedure was approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treating uterine fibroids in October 2004; however, it is still considered new, is not widely available and not all insurance carriers cover it.
Of the 89 patients who were available for phone interviews at 12 months, 69 indicated they received from the following relief from symptoms: excellent (74 percent), considerable (16 percent), moderate (9 percent) and insignificant (1 percent). The rate of additional treatments needed post-MRgFUS was 8 percent, which is within values reported for myomectomy and uterine fibroid embolization, said Hesley.