Recently, the use of targeted, high-intensity ultrasound has become a popular noninvasive alternative to surgery in the treatment of uterine fibroids. Ultrasound has had a wide variety of reproductive health applications for many years, and this new application promises further advancement of an already flourishing technology.
|How to know if you are a candidate for MR guided ultrasound:|
If fibroids are close to sensitive organs such as the bowel or bladder, or lie outside the image area, they cannot be treated by ultrasound.
Ultrasound may not be the right procedure for you if you still wish to become pregnant in the future. The effect of the ultrasound on the ability to conceive has not been thoroughly studied.
Patients who opt for this procedure must undergo magnetic resonance (MR) imaging. This is not suitable for women with heart pacemakers or ear implants.
The fibroids to be treated must be between 3 and 10 cm and have a total volume of no more than 500mL. If the volume of the fibroids exceeds this amount, additional treatment may be necessary.
Ask your gynecologist and radiologist, who determine treatment potential, if you are suitable for ultrasound treatment.
Fibroids are benign (noncancerous) tumors that grow in the uterus, primarily affecting women in their late reproductive years. According to the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, an estimated one out of every four or five women over the age of 35 develop them. Additionally, multiple studies suggest that an even larger number of women develop fibroids before the end of their reproductive years. While fibroids can be harmless and tiny, they sometimes become very large and grow out of control, possibly growing to the size of a grapefruit or larger.
Large or multiple fibroids can cause a variety of unpleasant symptoms, such as abnormal bleeding or heavy periods (menorrhagia), pain in the abdominal area or reproductive track, enlargement of the abdominal area, digestive or urinary complications, and miscarriage or problems during pregnancy. If symptoms become disruptive, treatment is necessary to remove or shrink the fibroids.
While lower intensity ultrasound can be useful in showing images of organs and structures inside the body without causing injury, high intensity ultrasound generates heat that can be used to cauterize or destroy tissue, literally cooking it away inside of the body. Ultrasound treatment for fibroids is conducted by using MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) to direct very precisely-aimed high-intensity ultrasound waves through the skin and to the location of the fibroid tissue, destroying it and allowing the body to reabsorb any remaining fragments over time.
The treatment is revolutionary in that it does not require a hospital stay, has no invasive components, and any discomfort resulting from the treatment is minimal, with an estimated one in ten patients requiring pain medication of any kind after treatment. The treatment is recommended for small- to medium-sized fibroids, because the painstaking precision – instrumental to avoiding the destruction of surrounding tissue and in some cases capable of preserving patients’ ability to conceive – is a very time-consuming process.