Pilates studio owner Tonya Amos needs her body to run her business. However, 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 told Ivanhoe.
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,” Vanessa Jacoby, MD, MAS, Assistant Professor Obstetrician/Gynecologist, Dept. of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Services, University of California, San Francisco, told Ivanhoe.
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 says not all patients with fibroids are candidates for these two new treatments. It depends on the size, location and number of fibroids.