Doctors study non-surgical alternative to hysterectomy
March 11, 1997
Web posted at: 6:49 p.m. EST (2349 GMT)
In this story:
From Correspondent Eugenia Halsey
LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- Non-cancerous but painful uterine tumors
called fibroids are a fact of life for about a third of all
women over age 35. But researchers have come up with a new
procedure that could help those women avoid the need for a
"I had severe abdominal pain and heavy bleeding," said Lisa
Ohler, who was facing the prospect of a hysterectomy, or
surgical removal of the uterus.
Hoping to avoid the operation, which would require a long
recovery period and make her unable to have children, Ohler,
39, opted for a non-surgical alternative.
She was one of 10 women who took part in a study at UCLA in
which doctors dried up the fibroids by cutting off their
In the new procedure, doctors insert a thin tube into a
woman's artery, guide it to the uterus, and fill the tube
with small plastic particles that block the flow of blood.
The procedure is monitored on X-ray machines.
"Patients are usually in the hospital for about six hours,"
says Dr. Scott Goodwin of the UCLA Medical Center. "They can
go back to work in a matter of days instead of weeks
following a hysterectomy, and they retain their uterus."
Ohler said now she has normal menstrual periods and feels
great. "I would recommend the procedure to anybody. It's been
a lifesaver to me," she said.
There are other surgical options for getting rid of fibroids,
including laparoscopy, sometimes referred to as Band-Aid
surgery because it involves a few very small incisions. With
laparoscopy, the fibroids are pulled out through a hole near
the belly button.
But that operation often can't get all of the tumor and
requires general anesthesia instead of the light sedation
called for with the new procedure.
However, researchers caution they don't know what kind of
effect the new procedure might have on fertility. So until
more is known, they recommend that women who are trying to
get pregnant try laparoscopy first.
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