How do I know if I am eligible for treatment?
Please consult your physician, he or she will be able to tell you if you are a suitable candidate for the ExAblate treatment. In general, people who cannot go into an MRI will not be able to be treated – this includes patients with metallic implants, patients who are claustrophobic, and patients who are allergic to contrast agent, a dye used to see blood vessels during MR imaging.
What is the ExAblate treatment?
ExAblate represents a proven, safe, and effective non-invasive option for women who wish to treat their fibroids while retaining their uterus. This incisionless treatment is conducted in an outpatient setting, without the need for general anesthesia or hospitalization, greatly reducing recovery time and the risk of side effects. It is the only non-invasive surgical procedure that uses Magnetic Resonance Guided Focused Ultrasound to treat uterine fibroids that is commercially available today.
Ultrasound waves are high frequency sound waves that the human ear cannot hear. When they are focused, similar to how a magnifying glass focuses light waves, they are capable of heating and destroying fibroid tissue at a single focal point. The surrounding, healthy tissue outside of the focal point is left unharmed.
What does the MR guidance provide?
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is advanced diagnostic technology that provides 3D imaging of internal organs without radiation.
The treatment uses the magnetic resonance (MR) images to identify exactly where the fibroid is, how much heat is being delivered during the treatment, and what portion has been treated, without the need for any incisions. At the end of the procedure, the MRI confirms which part of the fibroid has been treated.
What types of fibroids can be treated with the ExAblate?
Your physician will determine if your fibroids are suitable for treatment. ExAblate can be used for submucosal, subserosal, and intramural uterine fibroids. These are terms that are used to describe the location of the fibroid within the uterus. More than one fibroid can be treated during the procedure. Fibroids that are pedunculated (hanging from a stalk), in close proximity to sensitive organs (such as bowel or bladder), or in a location that is not accessible by the focused ultrasound may be untreatable.
What will I be required to do during the treatment?
The treatment takes place with you lying on the patient table inside the MR scanner. In order to have a successful treatment, it will be very important that you lie very still during the procedure. The doctor will give you sedatives and pain medication to help you relax. Since you will be lightly sedated throughout the entire treatment, you will be able to communicate with the physician and have the ability to stop the procedure at any point if you experience any discomfort.
How long will the treatment last?
The length of the treatment depends on the size of your fibroid. Each sonication or delivery of focused ultrasound takes 15-25 seconds and treats a volume of fibroid tissue that’s about the size of a jellybean. Between sonications, there is a 45-90 second cooling period to prevent any chance of heating tissue outside of the fibroid.
What happens to me after the MR guided FUS procedure?
Following the treatment you will rest for an additional 45-90 minutes until the sedation wears off. After that you will be released and able to go home.
What happens when I go home?
After the treatment, you will receive appropriate discharge instructions from your doctor. Usually nothing is required, although the doctor may recommend over-the-counter pain relief medication. Occasionally, women may experience some cramping, similar to menstrual period cramping or shoulder/back pain from lying in the treatment position.
Most women are able to return to work and normal activity 1-2 days after the procedure.
Who will provide my post-procedure care?
It is important that you and your doctor discuss who will handle your follow-up care. You should also know whom to contact in case of an emergency after your procedure.
You will return to see your physician at a six month follow-up visit, where an MRI will be required to determine the response of your treated fibroid and track development of any other fibroids.
How soon will I start to feel better?
Depending on initial symptoms, most patients find relief in their fibroid-related symptoms within 3 months, but in some cases as soon as the day of the treatment.
I recently had a myomectomy but my fibroids are still bothering me – can I get this treatment?
Consult your physician. Depending on how the surgery was performed, patients that have scar tissue on their abdomen from myomectomy or a previous surgery/C-section may not be eligible for the treatment. Focused ultrasound may cause heating or skin burns when a large amount of scar tissue is present.
I previously had a Uterine Artery Embolization/Uterine Fibroid Embolization – can I get this treatment?
Uterine Artery Embolization involves the injection of microbeads that block the small vessels of the fibroid. There were no patients with previous UFE/UAE treatment in the previous clinical studies, and the risks are unknown at this time.
What should I tell my doctor about my health before this treatment?
Before you undergo the ExAblate treatment, you should discuss:
- Your personal health history, including any allergies you may have
- Your family’s health history
- Any recent illness
- Medicines, including prescription, over the counter, herbal medicine, or dietary supplements
- Recent activities, including travel
- Your level of normal physical activity
- Previous MR or CT imaging studies
You and your doctor also will decide what type of sedation works best for you. Most doctors use conscious sedation, which means you are awake during the procedure but you may feel groggy.
Could my fibroids come back after the treatment?
Although this treatment may be successful in destroying the fibroids causing painful symptoms, more fibroids may grow at a later time. These fibroids could become symptomatic and require additional treatment. This is true for all fibroid treatments, except hysterectomy where the entire uterus is removed.
Are there any risks to the treatment?
As with any medical procedure, there are risks involved in the ExAblate treatment. Consult your physician to talk about any risks.
What other tumors are being treated using ExAblate?
Clinical trials for verifying the safety and efficacy of the MRgFUS technology (or ExAblate) are being conducted for, bone metastases, breast cancer, brain tumors, liver and prostate cancer. For more information please check the InSightec website. (www.insightec.com)
How many patients have been treated so far?
Over 6,500 patients have been treated in the US and around the world.
What are the benefits of MRgFUS?
- Effective alternative to surgery and hormonal treatment
- Completely non-invasive - no incisions and no blood loss
- No hospital stay
- Quick return to normal activities
- Preserves the uterus, cervix and ovaries
- Significant improvement in your quality of life
- decrease in menstrual bleeding from symptomatic fibroids
- decrease in urinary dysfunction, pelvic pain and/or pressure
How do I get started?
Consult with your physician first. He/she may not yet be familiar with this new treatment, but please share the information you have gathered from this website with him or her. Your doctor will be able to discuss treatment alternatives and, together with you, determine what is best for you. Any further questions may come directly to our facility, please contact us at 713-790-3333.