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Health Beat: Fixing fibroids

Health Beat: Fixing fibroids

SAN FRANCISCO - Pilates studio owner Tonya Amos needs her body to run her business, but the former professional dancer started feeling intense pain. A visit to her doctor revealed the cause.

"She said, 'Does this hurt?' and she pushed on my abdomen, and I said, 'Yeah, that hurts', and she said, 'Yeah, that's a fibroid," Amos recalled.

Amos had several fibroids. One of them was as large as a grapefruit.

"What I heard over and over was, 'You need a hysterectomy,'" Amos explained. "That was not an option for me."

Dr. Vanessa Jacoby is studying new ways to shrink fibroids without major surgery. With MR-guided focused ultrasound, an ultrasound beam focuses on the fibroid and creates heat.

"That heat burns the fibroid cells and destroys them," said Jacoby, assistant professor and obstetrician/gynecologist, University of California, San Francisco.

Another method, laparoscopic radiofrequency ablation, requires three tiny incisions. A probe is placed in the fibroid.

"We use radiofrequency energy to burn the fibroid cells," Jacoby explained.

With a hysterectomy, there's a three- to six-week recovery. The ablation is about a week. The ultrasound therapy is just two days.

Amos had the ultrasound treatment. It shrunk her fibroids.

"It feels like my body again," Amos said. "I got my body back!"

Jacoby said not all patients with fibroids are candidates for the two new treatments. It depends on the size, location and number of fibroids.

DOWNLOAD and VIEW research summary and an in-depth interview with the doctor

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