(NEWSCHANNEL 3) – It can cause debilitating pain, and it’s dangerous.
One in four women suffer from uterine fibroids, but a hysterectomy isn’t the only option.
When Pam Dickinson looks at her doctor, she sees her good luck charm.
“I am a different person, totally different person,” said Dickinson.
For four and a half years, Dickinson suffered from painful uterine fibroids, non-cancerous tumors in her pelvis. Dickinson had nine of them, some the size of grapefruits. They caused frequent urination, extreme fatigue, and constant bleeding.
“It affected the clothing I wore, it affected the activities I was involved in, it affected every aspect of my life,” said Dickinson.
Conventional treatment for uterine fibroids is a hysterectomy, but Dr. Terry Wilkin says that’s not the only option.
At the Borgess Fibroid Center, Dr. Wilkin and a team of doctors combine radiology and gynecology to achieve a less invasive therapy.
One technique is called uterine fibroid embolization, depriving the supply of blood and nutrients to the fibroids, essentially killing them off.
“We leave the uterus intact,” said Dr. Wilkin. “The whole procedure is done through a tiny little incision like that and it’s all done from inside the blood vessels.”
Another technique, called MR ablation, uses magnetic waves to first visualize the uterus, then directs an ultrasonic beam to ‘cook’ the fibroid. That technique is also minimally invasive, and gives women an additional option.
“They really appreciate the multi-disciplinary approach of the fibroid center and the fact that it’s so convenient,” said Dr. Jennifer Thome OB/GYN. “They’re able to visit with multiple providers on the same day and discuss the treatment options and the decision making is really left in their hands.”
For Pam Dickinson the decision was easy. A hysterectomy wasn’t right for her, but less invasive surgery was. Now, Dickinson says she has her life back.
“Do your homework,” said Dickinson. “You have to research. You are your own best doctor.”