by Marcelle Pick, OB/GYN NP
MRI–guided ultrasound ablation for fibroids
MRI-guided high-intensity ultrasound (MRgFUS), otherwise known as high–intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU), has become a wonderful new addition developed as a noninvasive treatment modality for uterine fibroids. MRgFUS/HIFU actually uses high-intensity focused ultrasound beams to heat and obliterate the fibroid tissue. This leaves the nearby tissues undamaged with a minimal number of reported side effects, as well as very little down time for recovery.
So far, MRI-guided thermal ablation by focused ultrasound is documented to show limited success in long-term resolution of fibroids. It remains in the investigational stages and is only available in a few locations and most often this is a self-pay procedure. Insurance companies don’t cover this procedure as it is still considered experimental. The FDA has approved one type of technology for this (ExAblate) as a premarket application that is only for women who have finished childbearing.
However, a number of women have reported excellent success with this specific technique as a noninvasive alternative to a hysterectomy, as to date we don’t have very many noninvasive alternatives. The hope is that as time goes by, MRI-guided ultrasound technology will become perfected and its accessibility will become more widespread.
For the meantime, if you’re interested, you might want to visit the Uterine-Fibroids.org website for more information. Of great importance here is that you be sure that you seek medical treatment only at a center where the providers are skilled in this technique.