UNDATED (WJRT) -
(05/28/14) - Fibroids are non-cancerous tumors that affect about 25 percent of reproductive-aged women.
Advances in surgery are giving these women a new option.
Fibroids are the most common reason women have hysterectomies, but now there are two new ways to shrink fibroids that don't involve major surgery.
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 said.
Tonya had several fibroids - one of them as large as a grapefruit.
"What I heard over and over and over was you need a hysterectomy. That was not an option for me, was not interested," Amos said.
Doctor Vanessa Jacoby, of the University of California, San Francisco, is studying new ways to shrink fibroids - without major surgery. With M-R guided focused ultrasound, a ultrasound beam focuses on the fibroid and creates heat.
"And that heat burns the fibroid cells and destroys them," Jacoby said.
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 said.
With a hysterectomy, there's a 3 -6 week recovery. The ultrasound therapy is just two days and the ablation is about a week.
Tonya had the ultrasound treatment, and it shrunk her fibroids.
"It feels like my body again. I got my body back," she said.
Dr. Jacoby says not all patients with fibroids are candidates for these two new treatments. It depends on the size, location, and number of fibroids.