The issue of improved treatments and better patient choice for women suffering from fibroids, was one of the key topics under discussion at the British Society of Interventional Radiology (BSIR) Annual Conference this month.
Fibroids are the most common type of tumour found in the human body, with approximately 20-70% of women will develop them. However, whilst the symptoms are obvious, uncomfortable and make life a misery for some women, in as many 75% of cases, they are asymptomatic and many women are unaware they them.
But, for those who do find that their quality of life is being significantly affected through heavy periods, unsightly and uncomfortable swelling and, in some serious cases, miscarriage and infertility – then it becomes vital to find the right treatment. And – as the patient support group, FEmISA (Fibroid Embolisation – Information, Support & Advice) is keen to tell women – hysterectomy is NOT the only answer.
Ginette Camps- Walsh, who helped to establish FEmiSA, comments; “We’re delighted that clinical research and general debate about the best treatments for women living with fibroids is on the agenda at the BSIR’s prestigious annual conference this week.
“The growing development of interventional radiology has made a huge impact on the lives of women seeking relief from the symptoms of fibroids. I, along with many other women who have suffered badly from fibroids will continue to watch with interest as treatments such as uterine artery embolization, or UAE /UFE continue to evolve and offer hope to women keen to avoid major surgery, retain their fertility and get back to normal life quickly.”
Delegates at the conference had the opportunity to learn from the eminent Professor of Radiology and Surgery, Ziv Haskel, from the University of Maryland Medical Centre who led a workshop on the UAE procedure. Research teams in Glasgow also presented an abstract looking at the best approaches for women undergoing UAE for symptomatic fibroids.
Uterine artery embolization (UAE) is a procedure where an interventional radiologist uses a small catheter (inserted via the groin) to deliver small particles that block the blood supply to the fibroid ‘mass’. Small particles are introduced through the catheter into the uterine artery, which block the blood supply to the fibroids, which are then literally starved of blood, shrivel and die over the next few months.
As a non-surgical technique, UAE is performed under light sedation. No general anaesthetic is required and inpatient hospital stay is normally only 24 hours. The woman retains her fertility and is able to return to work in 1 -3 weeks.
Ginette adds; “I receive so many emails from women who have been able to avoid the trauma and invasiveness of a hysterectomy. Words such as, “It made me feel like a new women”, and, “I was only offered hysterectomy and was horrified. Why didn’t the gynae tell me about embolisation “, sum up the importance of these new, minimally invasive techniques. We really do applaud these experts in the field of IR who are doing so much to improve the experience and outcomes for women treated by this revolutionary procedure.”
There are now over 100 NHS and private hospitals in the UK offering fibroid embolization and the FEmISA website (www.femisa.org.uk) can help women identify a local treatment centre.