YOUR HEALTH: Removing fibroids without hysterectomies

DALLAS, Texas  – Uterine fibroids can cause heavy bleeding, painful cramps, and sometimes serious complications during childbirth.

Most women get them at some point in their lives.

They run in families and African American women are more susceptible.

Now, there is a new minimally invasive technique to get rid of them for good.

It's been a life-changer for 29-year old Chanel Harvey.

"I think it's amazing. I never expected everything to just be normal, cause I've never had a normal period."

Just like her mother, Chanel experienced severe cramps and heavy bleeding because of fibroids, benign uterine tumors.

She had a procedure to remove them, but they grew back.

TREATMENT:  Treatment for fibroids depends on the severity, but the only proven permanent solution for uterine fibroids is hysterectomy, which is surgery to remove the woman's uterus.   Besides hysterectomies, myomectomy has been the only other surgical alternative which involves six weeks recovery and cutting out fibroids from the uterus.   Myomectomy is very effective, but fibroids can re-grow.   The younger you are and the more fibroids you have at the time of myomectomy, the more likely you are to develop fibroids again in the future. Women nearing menopause are the least likely to have recurring problems from fibroids after a myomectomy.

Hysterectomy was an option, but Chanel wanted to leave open the possibility of having children later.

But then doctors at Baylor Scott & White Health in Dallas tried something new: a device called Acessa that's inserted into the fibroid so surgeons can see it in real time.

Gynecologist Dr. Jessica Shepherd offered Chanel the minimally-invasive procedure called laparoscopic radiofrequency ablation.

"Radiofrequency energy is not radioactive," she explained.

"It's rather an energy that's delivered to the actual fibroid, and allows it, through heat, to decrease in size."

Heat is pushed through the device and destroys the fibroids.

"I think this is a major breakthrough for fibroid treatment and a surgical approach that allows women to resume their daily activity and quality of life," said Dr. Shepherd.

The procedure has changed Chanel's life.  No pain, no heavy periods, no hysterectomy.

"Just to know that those options are still available for me, that I can still have a family when I'm ready."

If this story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Jim Mertens at jim.mertens@wqad.com or Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com.

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