Fibroid Tumors: What Every Woman Must Know
Diagnosed with fibroids? Three experts help WebMD explore your treatment options.
Treatment Options: What You Should Know continued...
What You Should Know: "Of the three approaches, hysteroscopy is the most effective if you have bleeding or fertility-related problems or recurrent pregnancy loss due to fibroid tumors," says Arici.
That said, Arici cautions that myomectomy can cause adhesions or scar tissue to develop, which later may interfere with fertility. "A woman may need to use IVF in order to conceive after this surgery," he says. The uterus, however, remains strong enough to support a healthy pregnancy, he says.
Option 2: Uterine Artery Embolization
What It Is: A radiological procedure that blocks blood flow to the fibroid, causing it to shrink and eventually die.
How It's Done: A minimally invasive procedure, it involves placing a catheter into the uterine arteries through which tiny particles are injected that seal off the blood supply to the tumor.
What It Accomplishes: Without a blood supply, the fibroid withers and dies.
Best Suited for: Women who have completed childbearing.
What You Should Know: While doctors agree this is a safe, smart treatment, that opinion changes dramatically if a woman has not completed her childbearing. The reason? "Studies show that obstetric complications are higher following this treatment, including a higher rate of preterm labor," says Arici.
The reason behind all these problems, says Bartsich, is compromised blood flow to the uterus. "If you are going to do a good job of blocking blood flow to the fibroid, then you are also blocking blood flow to the uterus, and that causes difficulties during pregnancy," Bartsich tells WebMD. While he says some women have gone on to have a healthy pregnancy after embolization, he believes it's "risky."
Option 3: MRI-Guided Ultrasound
What It Is: For this procedure doctors use high focused ultrasound waves that are converted to heat and destroy the tumor. The MRI is used to guide the radio waves to the tumor site.
How It's Done: Patients are sedated and placed inside an MRI machine that is specially equipped with the ultrasound. The procedure can take up to three hours.
What It Accomplishes: Using heat it destroys the fibroids, though frequently two or more sessions may be needed. In the past, similar methods have used lasers or some form of electric current to accomplish the same thing.
Best Suited For: Women who have completed childbearing.