Information About Hysterectomy Alternatives Lacking
Northbrook, IL [Jan. 11, 2022]— Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) marks its 25th year as a non-surgical treatment option for fibroids,1 yet patients needing fibroid treatment are seldom offered this less drastic option over a hysterectomy—the second most common surgery among women in the United States. Yan Katsnelson, M.D., Founder of Fibroid Fighters Foundation, wants to change this by educating the public about the impact of fibroid disease and the safe and effective minimally invasive treatment.
Uterine fibroids are noncancerous tumors that often appear during childbearing years and range in size from as small as a seed to as large as a melon. Approximately 25% to 50% of women with fibroids are symptomatic, experiencing heavy menses, reproductive issues, pain, increased urinary frequency, and anemia.
According to the National Institutes of Health, more than 200,000 women undergo hysterectomies each year specifically as treatment for fibroids, representing about one-third of all hysterectomies done each year in the United States. However, the number of all hysterectomies being performed annually has remained stable at about 500,000.
Katsnelson, a Harvard-trained cardiologist, says there are simply too many hysterectomies being performed. “Patients seeking information about fibroid treatment other than removing their uterus tell us that they have received little if any information on hysterectomy alternatives and the risks that a major surgery poses.”
Also concerning is new research from Canadian scientists who found that hysterectomies among women who don’t have cancer posed an increased risk of death in women under 50 when the ovaries and fallopian tubes were also removed during the surgery. 2
Yet, many gynecologists who see patients with uterine fibroids requiring treatment automatically think surgery—either myomectomy to remove only the fibroids or a hysterectomy to remove the entire uterus. They don’t necessarily consider referring patients to an interventional radiologist who can perform an effective yet minimally invasive uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) procedure. Hysterectomy is often recommended because every gynecologist knows how to perform one.
A hysterectomy is the removal of the uterus or womb, where a fetus develops. It plays a critical role in menstruation and fertility. It is most often performed to fix pain and bleeding from a variety of reproductive health issues, the most common one being fibroids, which affects as many as two-thirds of women by age 50.
A recent study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology states that as many as one in five women who underwent a hysterectomy for a benign condition may not have needed the procedure.
By contrast, UFE is a non-surgical treatment option for fibroid that preserves the uterus. The safety and efficacy of the UFE procedure have been extensively studied, and it is recommended as a treatment option by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The procedure involves an interventional radiologist under guided imagery, inserting a catheter into the artery to block the blood the blood flow to the fibroid, causing it to shrink and eventually die. After the procedure, the catheter is removed and a small bandage placed over the incision.
After UFE, patients can expect resolution of symptoms such as heavy bleeding, pelvic pressure, and pelvic pain. The procedure offers the added benefit of being offered in an outpatient setting and a return to normal activities within a few days.
“Research is needed to discover earlier detection, better care and outcomes in fibroid treatment,” said Katsnelson, who was an early advocate of minimally invasive treatments beginning with heart surgeries that offered his patients benefits such as less bleeding, less trauma, fewer infections, and a quicker recovery.
Katsnelson is the CEO of USA Clinics Group, the parent company of USA Fibroid Centers, USA Vascular Centers, and USA Oncology Centers. He has pioneered expanding minimally invasive options that provide high-quality care using the latest technology in the most advanced facilities to the communities that need it most and are underserved.
“We need to be having better conversations about women’s options for fibroid treatment,” said Katsnelson. “UFE has been demonstrated to be a safe and effective treatment and should be considered a first-line therapy. We need to put an end to medically unnecessary hysterectomies.”
About Fibroid Fighters
The Fibroid Fighter Foundation is a public welfare organization created to advance the cause of women’s health and safe and effective treatment of uterine fibroids. Its mission is to educate the American public about the health, social, and economic damages caused by uterine fibroids with a focus on research and advances in fibroid disease treatment.