Nearly 80 percent of women in the U.S. will suffer with uterine fibroids at some point in their lives; one in four of those will need treatment. The benign tumors can cause cramping, heavy periods, and frequent urination. Now new technology is helping treat fibroids without removing the uterus.
Tracy Patches had numerous tumors in her uterus causing bladder issues and bloating.
"I had one that was a cantaloupe size. I had another that was an orange size," said Patches.
Every year 300,000 American women have hysterectomies because of fibroids. Tracy considered it but was worried about the possible six week recovery time. So, she opted for a minimally invasive treatment that doctor Atul Gupta helped develop.
The new procedure involves fusing a patient’s existing MRI with 3-D imagery to create a detailed map of the uterus and fibroids.
"And so the red is our human GPS and we’re guiding our catheters and wires into these little tiny uterine arteries using the roadmap from the MRI," said Dr. Atul Gupta, Director of Interventional Radiology at Paoli Hospital, Main Line Health.
Tiny plastic microspheres are injected to cut off the fibroids’ blood supply. They die and are absorbed by the body. The technique uses up to 70 percent less radiation and 50 percent less X-ray dye.
"There’s no stitches, no scarring, no blood loss. And for many women what they appreciate about the procedure so much is we maintain their uterus. We do not remove their uterus," Dr. Gupta said.
Tracy was back to work in less than a week symptom free and feeling great.
"It was the best decision I ever made," Tracy said.
Paoli Hospital in Pennsylvania is the only facility in the world offering the new FDA approved treatment. The technique is successful in 90 percent of cases. Otherwise a hysterectomy can still be performed.