Nonsurgical Fibroid Treatment Deemed Safe
But Questions Remain About Long-Term Effectiveness
WebMD News Archive
In an opinion released in January 2004, the American College of
Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) acknowledged that nonsurgical
embolization "appears to provide good short-term relief" for women who
are appropriate candidates for the procedure.
And the findings from the registry study were published in the July issue of
the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Long-Term Outcomes Unknown
But ACOG spokesman Bryan Cowan, MD, tells WebMD that the long-term
effectiveness of the procedure has yet to be established.
"We now know that about 25% of women who have myomectomies return for
repeat procedures within five years, and that usually means hysterectomy,"
says Cowan, who is professor and chairman of the University of Mississippi
Medical Center department of gynecology.
"We are only just now beginning to get five-year data on a very limited
number of (uterine embolization) patients."
Cowan says uterine embolization appears to be a good option for women who
aren't concerned about preserving fertility looking for a minimally invasive
treatment for symptoms associated with fibroids.
But all agree that the jury is still out on whether it is appropriate for
those who want the option of having children. Although pregnancies have
occurred in women who have had the embolization procedure, ACOG considers it
inadvisable in women wishing to retain their fertility. They state that
pregnancy outcomes remain understudied.
"The good news is that we do know that patients can become pregnant
after embolization, and it is certainly not anywhere near as final as having a
hysterectomy," Spies says. "But the role of embolization in the
treatment of women who want to preserve their fertility is not yet
Spies is confident that long-term data provided by the registry will answer
lingering questions about embolization.
"ACOG is rightly concerned about long-term outcomes, and by following
these women we will be able to address these concerns in a few years."