Hysterectomies: A New Alternative

March 17, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Every 10 minutes, 12 women in the U.S. get a hysterectomy. That's 600,000 a year. One-third of those are due to uterine fibroids. They can be painful and disruptive. Now, women have another option -- one that doesn't involve major surgery. Christina Simon is working hard to learn the ins and outs and ups and downs of tennis. For more than two years, she played through the pain of uterine fibroids. She's not alone. About 40 percent of women will have them. Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous masses in the uterine wall. They can be very tiny or like Christina's. She was told her fibroid was as big as a baby's head.

"The doctor told me I was beginning to look pregnant," Simon told Ivanhoe.

Before, the only option was surgery to remove the fibroid or a hysterectomy. But then Christina learned there's a treatment that doesn't involve major surgery. Dr. Marc Friedman at Cedars-Sinai performs uterine fibroid embolization, or UFE.

"One of the beauties of this procedure is all the fibroids in the uterus are treated," Dr. Friedman explained.

A catheter is inserted in an artery in the groin. Using real-time imaging, the physician guides the catheter through the artery and releases tiny particles the size of grains of sand into the uterine arteries that supply blood to the tumor. This blocks the blood flow.

"The fibroids die and eventually shrink," said Dr. Friedman.

Eighty-five to 90 percent of women who undergo a UFE say it significantly improves symptoms. Christina's shrunk by half, and within two months, she was back here.

"I came back and started playing again," Simon said.

Now she is focused on her game and not her pain.

No one knows what causes fibroids, but we do know that African American women are at a greater risk. Fifty percent may have fibroids of significant size.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Nilou Salimpour, Public Relations
S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
Los Angeles, CA
(310) 292-6536
salimpourn@cshs.org


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