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Focused ultrasound for fibroids.

An ongoing study conducted by Gina K. Hesley, MD, and colleagues at Mayo Clinic is assessing the use of focused ultrasound, guided by magnetic resonance, to treat uterine fibroids. At this time, hysterectomy is the only permanent cure for the pain and heavy bleeding associated with fibroids. This less-invasive treatment uses focused ultrasound waves to heat the benign tumor(s) until the MRI shows a specific color change in the tissue that indicates the targeted temperature. Heating the tumor changes the tissue's consistency and destroys the blood supply. When the procedure is performed correctly, the tissue "shrivels up" and dies. Mild discomfort that responds to acetaminophen is the most common side effect of the procedure, according to the Mayo research team.

In their first report presented at a Society of Interventional Radiology conference, the Mayo researchers said that about 90% of 100 patients "reported considerable or excellent pain relief" one year after treatment. Eight of the 100 who received ultrasound treatment underwent a hysterectomy or myomectomy during the year follow-up. Mayo researchers will continue to gather data on fibroid-related symptoms and symptom relief from the women in order to determine two- and three-year outcomes.

Focused ultrasound is not available to every woman with uterine fibroids. Although it is FDA-approved, few medical centers offer it; and not all insurers cover it. The procedure can cost over $10,000, according to a 2007 New York Times article. Moreover, the location, size, and/or number of fibroids can make a woman ineligible for focused ultrasound. This treatment is contraindicated in pregnant women. Like other surgical procedures, the likelihood that ultrasound treatment is successful correlates to the amount of experience the practitioner has. High-intensity focused ultrasound ablation has been used in China for over a decade to treat uterine fibroids and other solid tumors including liver cancers, breast cancers, pancreatic cancers, bone tumors, and renal cancers.

Fiore K. SIR: focused ultrasound for fibroids effective long-term [online article]. MedPage Today. March 15, 2010, Accessed March 16, 2010.

Okada A, Morita Y, Fukunishi H, Takeichi K, Murakami T. Non-invasive magnetic resonance-guided focused ultrasound treatment of uterine fibroids in large Japanese population: impact of the learning curve on patient outcome [abstract]. Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol. November 2009;34(5):5795-83. Available at Accessed January 12, 2011.

Rabin RC. It banishes uterine fibroids, but for how long? New York Times August 7, 2007. Available at Accessed January 12, 2011.

Zhang L, Wang ZB. High-intensity focused ultrasound tumor ablation: Review of ten years of clinical experience [abstract]. Front Med China. September 2010;4(3):294-302. Available at: Accessed January 12, 2011.

briefed by Jule Klotter

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Title Annotation:Shorts
Author:Klotter, Jule
Publication:Townsend Letter
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2011
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