nurse with new tech

New Technology Means New Hope for Fibroid Patients

Uterine fibroids are a common ailment among females; in fact, it’s estimated that up to 70% of women have them. For most women, they are benign, and some women don’t experience symptoms. But for others, fibroids can mean years of pain, long menstrual periods and heavy bleeding.

Other symptoms of fibroids can include:

  • Severe cramps
  • Pelvic pain
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Abdominal distension

In March 2022, Carolynn Young, MD, a gynecologist affiliated with Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center, performed the hospital’s first procedure using Sonata®, a minimally invasive treatment option for fibroids. The procedure requires no incision and has virtually no recovery time.

“This technology really means that we are at the frontier of treatment for fibroids,” Dr. Young says.

Using a small ultrasound probe inside the uterine cavity, Dr. Young can locate the fibroid. Then, small needles that use radio frequency energy are deployed into the fibroid, killing the proteins and fibers so that they can’t cause symptoms.

“I compare it to turning a baseball into a marshmallow,” Dr. Young says. “It doesn’t completely dissolve the fibroid, but it prevents them from causing the patient issues.” The procedure can take anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes.

Because Sonata uses ultrasound, only the affected tissue is treated, which is much less traumatic for the patient’s body.  According to Dr. Young, 95% of women who have the procedure notice a decrease in bleeding, and 65% notice a shorter period.

There are some types of fibroids that cannot be treated with Sonata, such as a pedunculated fibroid, which is attached to the uterus by a stalk. Fibroids larger than 8 centimeters also require more traditional treatments, such as laparoscopic procedures, to be removed. As more studies are conducted, the hope is Sonata will become a common treatment plan for many women.

“Hopefully a few years down the road, this will become the standard of care,” Dr. Young says. For her, the best part is the look on her patients’ faces after the procedure. “Knowing their quality of life has improved, and so immediately, is such a joy.”

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