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Endometrial Ablation

Each year about 120,000 American women have hysterectomies because of bleeding problems, particularly related to uterine fibroids.  Recently, the FDA approved technology for two less invasive procedures to treat the problem.  "Her Option" from CryoGen and "Hydro ThermAblator" from BEI Medical Systems are both forms of endometrial ablation They use different techniques (freezing in the former, heat in the latter) to destroy tissue in the lining of the uterus to stop bleeding.  Another form of endometrial ablation, "ThermaChoice" from Gynecare, uses a balloon inserted into the uterus filled with heated water, which presses against the endometrium and destroys much of it.  

Of course, these new treatments won't be alternatives to a hysterectomy for all women, but for the 82%--88% of women in whom they may work, they may prevent a major operative procedure.   Long-term studies (up to three years after these procedures) show that most women resume having "normal" periods, about 15%--40% no longer have periods, and the procedure "fails" in 10% to 20% of patients.  Different techniques have different results.   As a result, women who elect this procedure should be sure before hand that they do not want to have any other children, but they cannot rely on this procedure for contraception.

Who is a candidate for this procedure?  Women who have "menorrhagia" or severe periods that interfere with their daily activities.  This is usually defined as periods lasting longer than 7 days or requiring 15 or more sanitary napkins per day.  

For more information about fibroids, click here.

Created: 5/17/2001  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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