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Thursday, December 25, 1997 Published at 17:29 GMT



Sci/Tech

New treatment could avoid major surgery for women
image: [ The ultrasound treatment could cut recovery times and free up hospital beds ]
The ultrasound treatment could cut recovery times and free up hospital beds

Trials pioneering a new technique for removing growths in the womb are under way at the Royal Surrey County Hospital.


Dr. Woodruff Walker, consultant radiologist at the Royal Surrey County Hospital (0' 39")
The treatment involves use of an ultrasound scan to pick out fibroids or growths in the womb and has been performed on 45 women at the hospital.

Fibroids in the womb sometimes grow to a size that can cause painful periods or chronic bladder problems.

Every year, about 20,000 women in the UK have a hysterectomy as a result. The operation can trigger early menopause and may harm the bones and the heart.


[ image: Major surgery need not be undertaken to treat fibroids]
Major surgery need not be undertaken to treat fibroids
The new technique avoids the need for any major surgery. Under a local anaesthetic, a catheter tube is inserted into the main artery into the womb, blocking blood vessels in the arteries and shrinking the fibroid by depriving it of nutrients.

Joanne Marshall, from West London, was told she had a fibroid growth in her womb that had reached the size of a half-term pregnancy.

Her doctors advised major surgery or a hysterectomy - but she discovered the ultrasound option.

She described the benefits of the technique: "I stumbled across this process, but only because of my insistence. I didn't want a hysterectomy because of my age - 34 - and not having a family.

"My life's back to normal, and I'm forever grateful."

The technique, called embolisation, first developed in Paris, has not previously been used to treat fibroids.

Early results from the trial are very positive. Though some pain is experienced immediately after the treatment, the development could save many women from an early menopause and infertility.

Other hospitals are now expressing interest in the procedure, which frees up beds and resources. Patients only have to spend days in hospital rather than weeks, as can follow a hysterectomy.






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Internet Links

The Obstetrics and Gynecology Network

Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists


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