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Publications

ExAblate: A revolutionary treatment for uterine fibroids

Bookmark and Share One in four women suffers from constant pain because of uterine fibroids. There's a variety of treatment options, but some are just as daunting and inconvenient as the pain itself. Now there's a new way to treat the pain, and it's the stuff of science fiction — complete with sound waves that beam right through your body to melt the fibroid. What's best: it's noninvasive and nonsurgical. And it's called ExAblate. This revolutionary technology was developed by InSightec, an innovative company owned, in part, by General Electric (GE). Virtua's strategic partnership with GE, a world-class leader in healthcare technology, brought Virtua and InSightec together. As a result, Virtua is the only healthcare provider in the region and one of the first in the nation to offer ExAblate. Until now, a woman suffering with severe uterine fibroid symptoms only had medical or surgical choices to relieve discomfort: hysterectomy, myomectomy or uterine artery embolization. The new ExAblate System represents a remarkable non-surgical breakthrough. Thomas Kay, MD, chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at Virtua West Jersey Hospitals, explains how this new technology works: "Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for visual guidance, a focused ultrasound beams are passed through the body to pinpoint areas on the fibroid. These focused beams destroy fibroid tissue without affecting the surrounding healthy tissue. The procedure requires only light sedation, instead of general anesthesia." Deniece Maddox is enthusiastically anticipating the ExAblate technology. She explains: "I've had six surgeries to remove fibroids over the past 10 years. They just keep growing back, and I'm always in pain. ExAblate is an option I really want to explore." Jeffry Komins, MD, chief of obstetrics and gynecology at Virtua Memorial Hospital, describes the human side of this innovative technology. "Women recover in just one to two days, as compared to lengthier recuperation periods for traditional procedures, and have less discomfort because there is no incision." This new technology has also generated a great deal of interest for its potential application in the treatment of tumors of the breast, liver and prostate. Such applications would have to be tested in clinical trials and would require review and approval by the FDA. Options for uterine fibroid treatment
Virtua offers a wide range of sophisticated treatments for uterine fibroids. Treatment options vary based on several factors: severity of symptoms, fibroid size and location, and personal and lifestyle factors. Your physician can help you choose the right therapy for your needs. Women who have no or mild symptoms may only need monitoring by their physician. Treatment for more severe symptoms include medications that suppress estrogen production and produce an artificial menopause; myomectomy, in which only the fibroid tissue is removed; hysteroscopy, in which the fibroids inside the uterus are removed vaginally; or hysterectomy, in which the uterus is removed. In addition, there's a minimally invasive option called uterine artery embolization. Paul Curtis, MD, Virtua interventional radiologist, explains how it works: "An interventional radiologist inserts a catheter into the groin through a small incision in the skin and guides it to the uterine artery. He then injects tiny pellets into the catheter that lodge in the small arteries that feed the fibroid. This blocks blood supply to the fibroid and causes it to shrink and die." The procedure takes about one hour and requires only light sedation. To discuss uterine fibroid treatment options with a Virtua obstetrician/gynecologist, call 1-888-Virtua-3.