Illustration of radiofrequency ablation technique to remove fibroids.Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal reports a new surgical technique for relief of uterine fibroids is currently being tested at six medical centers in the U.S., along with two in Mexico and one in Guatemala. Presently, the only sure cure is hysterectomy, because fibroids sometimes grow back when suppressed with drugs or removed individually.

Fibroids are benign growths in the uterus that are estimated to occur in as many as 70% of women. Fibroids are often asymptomatic; many women don’t even know they have them. But fibroids can become large and painful, and can cause heavy menstrual bleeding. Sometimes they can grow large enough to interfere with other organs.

The new technique under investigation is called radiofrequency ablation. The procedure involves three small incisions: one for the laproscopic camera so the surgeon can see inside the abdomen, a second for an intra-abdominal utrasound probe to determine the size and location of fibroids, and a third for the Halt device, a needle electrode that penetrates the fibroid and burns the cells, which are eventually reabsorbed by the body. The device also cauterizes the incision to minimize bleeding.

In early tests outside the U.S. with 70 women, 90% were satisfied with the results. It is unknown whether fibroids destroyed with this technique will grow back.

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