Promising New Procedure Being Tested for Fibroid Treatment

Saskatchewan gynecologists are the first in Canada to offer a new method of treating fibroids that could allow a woman to give birth naturally.

Using an electric probe that sizzles away uterine fibroids allows patients to avoid more invasive surgery and recover much more quickly, according to studies that compared the technique to surgically removing the growths. The technique uses a machine called Acessa. Developed in California, the equipment is a bevelled, intimidating looking probe that pokes through a woman’s belly into a fibroid embedded in the uterus.

With a pickle-grabber-like mechanism, the probe projects seven wires that zap and kill the fibroid tissue, which the body later absorbs.

Women hoping to avoid a hysterectomy have come to Saskatchewan from Nova Scotia, Ontario and Alberta for the procedure, called global fibroid ablation (GFA). Although Health Canada approved the technique in 2012, doctors need special training to do the procedure.

Maria Diamond of Carstairs, Alta., was sidelined monthly by her fibroids. She has endured at least eight years of painful menstruation that got progressively worse and kept her home from work.

“I would be in bed in pain for two days,” she said.

Side-effects stopped her from taking medication that shrinks fibroids.

Although her gynecologist told her it was time for her two tennis ball-sized fibroids to come out, Diamond didn’t want a hysterectomy.

She found out about Thiel’s work online, and came to Saskatoon in April for surgery with Dr. Laura Weins.

The pain after the procedure wasn’t as bad as she was expecting, she felt back to normal within three weeks, Diamond said.

“It’s incredible that they’re pioneering this. Women should consider it as an option.”

The technique holds promise for women who want to have a baby, Thiel said.

When doctors cut out a fibroid, it leaves a weak spot in the uterus. After that procedure (called a myomectomy), a woman would have to deliver a baby by caesarean section, Thiel said.

The GFA technique can also find and destroy smaller fibroids than would be possible in a myomectomy, he said.

There’s less cutting involved, little blood lost, and women need fewer pain drugs and are back to their regular activities more quickly than with more invasive surgery, he said.

Although the disposable Acessa probe costs about $2,000, the technique could save more in health-care and medication costs, Thiel predicts.

The Treatment Results of Uterine Sparing Technologies (TRUST) study aims to recruit 260 Canadian women with fibroids to have them removed by one of three techniques, including GFA or myomectomy. In this blind study, women won’t know which procedure they get. Doctors are looking for volunteers in Saskatoon, Regina and

Article originally appeared in The StarPhoenix:  Sask. Surgeons Offer New Fibroid Treatment

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