Endometrial ablation is a procedure that destroys (ablates) the uterine lining, or endometrium. This procedure is used to treat dysfunctional or abnormal uterine bleeding. Sometimes a lighted viewing instrument (hysteroscope) is used to see inside the uterus. Endometrial ablation can be done
- Laser beam (laser thermal
- Heat (thermal ablation), using:
- A balloon
filled with saline solution that has been heated to
85 °C (185 °F) (thermal balloon
- Normal saline (heated free fluid).
- Electricity, using a resectoscope with a loop or rolling ball
The endometrium heals by scarring, which usually reduces or
prevents uterine bleeding.
Endometrial ablation may be done in an outpatient facility or your doctor's office. The procedure can take up to about 45 minutes. The procedure may be done using a
spinal anesthesia. And general anesthesia is sometimes used.
What To Expect After Surgery
After the procedure, you may have some side effects, such as cramping, nausea, and vaginal discharge that may be watery and mixed with blood. This discharge will become clear after a couple of days and can last for around 1 to 2 weeks.
takes a few days to 2 weeks to recover. You can usually go home the same day.
Why It Is Done
Endometrial ablation is used to
control heavy, prolonged vaginal bleeding when:
- Bleeding has not responded to other
- Childbearing is completed.
- You prefer not
to have a
hysterectomy to control bleeding.
medical problems prevent a hysterectomy.
How Well It Works
Most women will have reduced
menstrual flow following endometrial ablation. And up to half will stop having
Younger women are less likely
than older women to respond to endometrial ablation. After an endometrial
ablation, younger women are more likely to continue to have periods and need a
Young women may be treated with gonadotropin-releasing hormone analogues (GnRH-As) 1 to 3
months before the procedure. This will decrease their production of
estrogen and help thin the lining of the uterus (endometrium).
Problems that can happen during endometrial
- Accidental puncture (perforation) of the
- Burns (thermal injury) to the uterus or the surface of the
- Buildup of fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema).
- Sudden blockage of arterial blood flow within the
lung (pulmonary embolism).
- Tearing of the
opening of the uterus (cervical laceration).
These problems are uncommon but can be severe.
What To Think About
Regrowth of the endometrium may
occur after you have endometrial ablation. This procedure is not recommended if
you have a high risk for
Do not consider this
procedure if you plan to become pregnant in the future.
this surgery usually causes sterility by destroying the lining of the uterus,
pregnancy may still be possible if a small part of the endometrium is left in
place. This can lead to severe pregnancy problems.
Birth control of some form is needed if you have not
Complete the surgery information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you prepare for this surgery.
Fritz MA, Speroff L (2011). Abnormal uterine bleeding. In Clinical Gynecologic Endocrinology and Infertility, 8th ed., pp. 591–620. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
Primary Medical Reviewer
||Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
||Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Current as of
||March 12, 2014