Avoiding The Loss Of Your Womb

As many as 70% of all women develop the benign uterine tumors known as fibroids, though they may never know they have them. Most of the time, fibroids cause no symptoms. But in up to one-third of all cases of uterine fibroids, there is severe pelvic pain, bloating, and heavy bleeding. It's no wonder—fibroids have been known to grow as large as a basketball. At that point, they begin to interfere with the workings of other organs.

Closed Doors

The classic treatment for this condition is a hysterectomy. But women who have the condition may not yet be ready to close the door on a chance for children. Thus, a great interest has grown around the development of alternative treatments for uterine fibroids. One such treatment, radiofrequency ablation, is generating some excitement. The treatment is minimally invasive and involves the insertion of a device much like a needle that enters the fibroid by way of the abdomen. The device is heated with a low-frequency electric current. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has already approved this procedure as a treatment for several other conditions, for instance as a treatment for lung or liver tumors.

The treatment is now in its last phase of the clinical trials needed in order to obtain FDA approval as a therapy for uterine fibroids. To that end, there are 6 U.S. medical centers in the U.S. recruiting women for these trials, along with two more in Mexico, plus one in Guatemala.

Gynecologists Rule

Some of the already approved newer alternative treatments for the condition, such as uterine artery embolization (UAE), and high frequency ultrasound (HIFU), must be performed by radiologists as opposed to gynecologists. But Jeffrey Cohen, the co-founder and CEO of Halt Medical Inc., the manufacturer of the radiofrequency-ablation device says, "We came up with a device that gives control of the patient back to the gynecologists."

During the Halt procedure, three small incisions are made. One incision is for the insertion of the laparoscopic camera, through which the surgeon can get a clear picture of the inside of the abdomen. The second incision is for the purpose of inserting an intra-abdominal ultrasound probe, which serves to discover the location and size of fibroids. The Halt needle electrode is inserted through the third incision, where it enters the fibroids and burns the fibroid cells. These burned cells are harmlessly and gradually reabsorbed. The device serves a dual purpose, since it also cauterizes the incision so as to minimize bleeding.

While the procedure requires full anesthesia and may take many hours to perform depending upon the number of fibroids found, patients can be released the same day.

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