LOUIS — Surgeons commonly treat troublesome uterine fibroids
by removing the uterus or cutting out the tumors, but with a
newly approved device, surgeons can melt them.
Hospital St. Louis is the first in the Midwest to offer the
procedure, which allows for a quicker recovery and reduces the
chance the fibroids will return.
Acessa device, approved by the FDA a year ago, is a probe that
is inserted through a tiny incision. Radiofrequency energy
then searches out the tumors and destroys them. The
surrounding tissue is left intact, and patients leave the
hospital the same day.
is the fibroid treatment patients and physicians have been
waiting for," said Dr. David Levine, a Mercy obstetrician
who participated in the nationwide clinical trial of the
device, which involved nearly 240 patients. "It will
change the way women think about fibroid removal since they
often live with symptoms rather than have major surgery."
50, nearly 80 percent of U.S. women have uterine fibroids,
non-cancerous tumors that grow in the walls of the uterus or
womb. Symptoms vary widely from no symptoms to extremely heavy
bleeding, pelvic pain, constipation and nausea.
says many women suffer with symptoms because they do not want
to have a hysterectomy, which can have long-term effects on a
woman’s health, longevity and sexuality. Recovery takes four
to six weeks.
removing the tumors while leaving the uterus intact also
requires at least a two-week recovery, depending on the size
of the surgical incision. Also, tumors and symptoms often
says the Acessa probe is ultrasound-guided, which allows
surgeons to locate all the tumors, some as small as 2mm.
a result, we are able to treat all the fibroids, so the
recurrence rate will be less," Levine said.
"Currently, 35 percent of women will have a recurrence
after five years."
Fisher, 48, of St. Louis, had the procedure at Mercy less than
eight weeks ago. Fisher’s fibroid symptoms had worsened over
the past three years. She had irregular and very heavy
bleeding, fatigue, constant feeling of needing to urinate,
cramping and bloating. With at least three large fibroids, her
only option was a hysterectomy. But she did not want to lose
her uterus and did not want to miss work as a physical
days after having the procedure, Fisher said she was fully
recovered. She’s had one period, which was normal. "I
feel lighter," she said. "I feel much more
energetic. I am much more myself now."
device has only been approved for women ages 35-50 who are
finished bearing children. Studies are ongoing involving all
women, including those who plan to get pregnant.
the device is new, not all health insurance companies have yet
to approve coverage of the procedure, Levine said. "It’s
hit and miss whether an insurance company will pay for
it," he said. "But these are women who are sitting
on the sidelines looking for an alternative. … They are
willing to fight the insurance company."