Imagine a life where you no longer have to change your overnight-size sanitary pads every hour or take large doses of Ibuprofen to ease your menstrual cramps. You can wear light colors and fitted clothes. You can go to work, attend parties and special events, and even take weekend trips.
Now imagine a medical procedure that will eliminate those symptoms by destroying those culpable benign, muscular tumors and you can return to work in less than a week.
Most importantly, you retain your uterus -- fully intact.
“The procedure is a radiofrequency, volumetric thermal ablation of the fibroid,” says Dr. Peter Schneider, OB/GYN at Greater Carolinas Women’s Center-University, part of Carolinas HealthCare System in Charlotte, North Carolina. “What it's doing is treating just the fibroid.”
The procedure, officially known as The Acessa System is an FDA-approved, minimally invasive, outpatient, laparoscopic surgery that destroys uterine fibroids by transmitting low-energy, radiofrequency current through a handpiece. The surrounding, undamaged muscle tissue then reabsorbs the ablated fibroid causing the uterus to shrink.
For years, hormone therapy, uterine artery embolization, myomectomy and hysterectomy have remained the most common treatment options for women with symptomatic fibroids. Yet, the latter two have often created a dilemma particularly for women who want to get pregnant with minimal risk as well as those who simply want to keep their uterus.
“So many of the patients don't want a hysterectomy for whatever reasons,” says Schneider. “The beauty of this is that we're offering something in the middle for the patient.”
The Acessa System was developed by Dr. Bruce Lee, who created the surgical technique 15 years ago, and Dr. Gordon Epstein, who designed the medical device. In 2004, they formed Halt Medical, Inc. to develop and manufacture the ablation device for gynecologists to use as a hysterectomy alternative. Also, it has received a CE mark for use in Canada and Mexico and is awaiting commercialization.
In early 2013, Schneider learned about the procedure in a medical publication. "You hate to let an opportunity like this to get away,” he says. “That was from the viewpoint I wanted to get the procedure here.” To date, Schneider, the only Acessa-trained physician in the Southeast, has performed 11 procedures with a 95 percent success rate. He says his patients are “very pleased” and have minimal to no symptoms.
“This surely in a sense revolutionized the treatment of fibroids,” says Schneider.