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Uterine Fibroids

A-Z Index

Uterine fibroid treatment options vary based on several factors including:

  • Severity of symptoms
  • Fibroid size and location
  • Personal and lifestyle factors

An OB/GYN can help patients choose the right therapy for their needs.

Virtua offers conservative to advanced treatments for uterine fibroids including:

  • Hormone and medication therapy
  • Pain management
  • Minimally invasive and traditional surgery to remove fibroids
  • Uterine fibroid embolization (link to the UFE page)
  • Non-invasive treatment using magnetic resonance guided focused ultrasound (MRgFUS)
  • Hysterectomy, if necessary, including minimally invasive options

Learn more about minimally invasive surgery through robotic-assisted surgery, which uses a state-of-the-art surgical system. The technology allows the doctor to perform complex procedures through just a few tiny openings. As a result, patients may be able to get back to life faster without the usual recovery following major surgery.

What is MRgFUS (Magnetic Resonance guided Focused Ultrasound)?

During this outpatient procedure, the patient lies on her stomach on a special table in a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine. Inside the table is a device that delivers focused ultrasound beams to the fibroid. Using MRI for visual guidance, an interventional radiologist plots a treatment area on the fibroid and systematically targets small spots with ultrasound beams until the entire area is treated. The beams produce targeted heat to destroy the fibroid without affecting the healthy tissue surrounding it.

What does a patient feel during the procedure?

Patients remain conscious during the procedure so they may communicate with the physician. However, they do receive mild sedation, so they are not fully alert during the treatment. Many patients report a feeling of warmth in their abdomen during the procedure.

How long does the treatment last?

The treatment typically takes three to four hours, depending on the size of the targeted fibroid.

How long after the treatment until patients can return to normal activities?

Return to normal activities is 1 to 2 days.

Do uterine fibroids return after the treatment?

While the tumors that were treated will not re-grow, new or untreated fibroids may continue to grow.

Are there risks associated with this procedure?

As with any medical procedure, there are risks involved with the MRgFUS treatment. These risks include skin burns, back or leg pain, abdominal cramping, nausea, fever, vaginal discharge, and urinary tract infection. However, the incidence of these complications is relatively low. There is a risk that the treatment may be successful in reducing the symptoms from the fibroids that are treated, but at a later time, additional fibroids may grow and require treatment. This is true for all fibroid treatment alternatives, except hysterectomy.

For whom is MRgFUS appropriate?

A special diagnostic MRI will give the doctors the information they need about size, number and location of the fibroids and allow them to tell you if it's a good treatment option for you. In general, people who cannot go into an MRI will not be able to have the MRgFUS treatment - this includes patients with certain metallic implants and patients who are extremely claustrophobic. The effects of MRgFUS on the ability to become pregnant and carry a fetus to term, and on the development of the fetus, have not yet been determined. MRgFUS also is NOT appropriate for women who have had previous uterine artery embolization.

Who performs the MRgFUS treatment?

While interventional radiologists perform the procedure, patient care through the entire process is a joint effort between OB/GYNs and interventional radiologists.

Is MRgFUS covered by most major health plans?

Since MRgFUS is a new technology, many health plans may not yet cover it as a routine benefit. Despite this, increasing numbers of patients have obtained pre-authorization of treatment coverage by their carriers, on a case-by-case basis.