Alternatives to a hysterectomy
Kevin Hirsch, MD, is an interventional radiologist at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix. For more information, call (602) 839-4689.
Question: I have suffered from uterine fibroids for years. Is there a solution that does not involve surgery?
Answer: Yes, it is very possible that you could be treated without surgical intervention. Ask your physician if you are a good candidate for uterine fibroid embolization. This FDA-approved, minimally invasive procedure is performed by an interventional radiologist, and is an alternative to hysterectomy or myomectomy for most women.
The procedure is done though a small nick in the skin. A tiny catheter is guided into the arteries that feed the uterus using specialized imaging technology. Tiny, sand-like microspheres are then injected through the artery into the fibroids to block blood flow and cause them to shrink and die.
The uterus remains intact, and because the procedure is accomplished using only a mild sedative, the risks of general anesthesia are avoided. The entire procedure lasts between one and two hours, and is typically performed on an outpatient basis.
Recovery time is dramatically reduced compared to surgery. The majority of women are able to return to work and normal activity within one week of the procedure. Approximately 90 percent of patients have significant to total relief of debilitating symptoms, including heavy bleeding, pelvic pain, bloating, constipation and bladder pressure after uterine-fibroid embolization.