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A New Way to Zap Away Uterine Fibroids
Date:3/16/2010

High-energy ultrasound waves avoid surgery by destroying the benign tumors

TUESDAY, March 16 (HealthDay News) -- Focused ultrasound is an effective way to get rid of uterine fibroids, the noncancerous but troublesome tumors that can grow inside the uterus, new research shows.

Uterine fibroids are a common condition that can lead to a host of problems, including prolonged, heavy menstrual bleeding that can be severe enough to cause anemia or require blood transfusion; severe pelvic pain and pressure; urinary frequency; pain during intercourse; problems with becoming pregnant, miscarriage and complications during pregnancy.

About 20 percent to 40 percent of women aged 35 and older have uterine fibroids. The problem is even more common among black women, about half of whom have fibroids, according to background information in the study.

There are several treatment options for fibroids, ranging from taking birth control pills to getting a hysterectomy. More recently, other techniques have been developed, including myomectomy, in which doctors surgically remove the fibroids, and uterine fibroid embolization (UFE), also called uterine artery embolization, which starves fibroids by blocking their blood supply using particles inserted into the uterus using a tube threaded through an artery in the groin.

The most recently developed -- and least invasive technique -- is focused ultrasound, in which interventional radiologists guided by MRI zap fibroids using tightly focused ultrasound.

In the study, researchers from the Mayo Clinic treated 119 women with focused ultrasound. One year after the treatment, 74 percent of women said their improvement of symptoms was "excellent," while 16 percent said the improvement was "considerable."

About 8 percent of women needed to have another form of fibroid treatment within a year, said study author Dr. Gina Hesley, an assistant professor of interventional r
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