From Our 2007 Archives

Focused Ultrasound Eases Fibroid Symptoms

WEDNESDAY, May 30 (HealthDay News) -- A noninvasive ultrasound procedure called magnetic resonance-guided focused ultrasound surgery (MRgFUS) shrinks uterine fibroids and relieves fibroid-related symptoms.

That's the conclusion of a new study by researchers at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

Uterine fibroids are benign growths of the muscle inside the uterus and are the primary reason for surgical removal of the uterus, accounting for about one-third of hysterectomies in the United States, according to the National Women's Health Information Center.

The study included 160 women with uterine fibroids, which can cause symptoms such as excessive menstrual bleeding, enlarged uterine size, frequent urination, pelvic pressure or pain, and infertility. Magnetic resonance imaging was used to identify and define the fibroids and MRgFUS was then used to treat the targeted fibroids.

Of the women in the study, 96 were treated under the original study protocol, which allowed a maximum treatment time of 120 minutes and a maximum fibroid treatment volume of 100 ccs (about 6 centimeters in diameter), or about 33 percent of total fibroid volume.

Sixty-four of the women were treated under an optimized protocol that allowed a maximum treatment time of 180 minutes and maximum fibroid treatment volume of 150 ccs (about 7 centimeters in diameter) -- about 33 percent of total volume in subserosal fibroids (those on the outer wall of the uterus), and 50 percent of volume in non-subserosal fibroids.

All the women showed significant symptom relief three months after treatment and sustained relief after one year. But those treated with the optimized treatment reported greater symptom relief and improved quality of life. No serious side effects were reported.

"This treatment immediately stops blood flow in the treated fibroid tissue, which results in a significant, sustained decrease in symptoms for up to 12 months," study lead author Dr. Fiona M. Fennessy, assistant professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School and staff radiologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital, said in a prepared statement.

"This treatment is ideal for older women who have completed their families and have a single or limited number of fibroids," noted co-author Dr. Clare M. Tempany, professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School and director of Clinical Focused Ultrasound at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

The results are published in the June issue of the journal Radiology.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Radiological Society of North America, news release, May 29, 2007

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