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Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center - Houston, Texas

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Houston VA Offering New Method for Treating Painful and Symptomatic Uterine Fibroids

November 29, 2004

Houston VA Offering New Method for Treating Painful and Symptomatic Uterine Fibroids

Secretary of State-designate Condoleeza Rice underwent same procedure two weeks ago.

Released: 2004/11/29

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"This new procedure safely reduces the size and symptoms of the fibroids. It decreases menstrual bleeding, urinary frequency, pelvic pain, and pressure. Many women have reported a significant improvement in their quality of life and are pleased they are able to avoid more drastic and invasive surgeries," said MEDVAMC Vascular Physician Ruth Bush, M.D.
photo by Bobbi D. Gruner, MEDVAMC Public Affairs Officer

HOUSTON, TX - The Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center (MEDVAMC) is among the first hospitals in the country to perform embolization procedures for uterine fibroids. This is good news for women veterans who suffer from symptomatic fibroids.

Uterine fibroids are the most common, noncancerous tumors in women of childbearing age, according to the National Institutes of Health. Uterine fibroids affect about 25% of all women in the U.S., and more than 200,000 women have hysterectomies every year due to uterine fibroids.

Uterine fibroid embolization is a relatively new method for treating fibroids. It is done to cut off the blood supply to the fibroid. This slows their growth and eventually causes them to shrink. The procedure takes from one to three hours, and the patient is awake but sedated. According to published reports, Secretary of State-designate Condoleeza Rice underwent this relatively new procedure two weeks ago to relieve uterine fibroid symptoms.

Common symptoms of uterine fibroids include heavy periods, bleeding between periods, and pelvic pain. Some fibroids can affect a woman's ability to get pregnant.

"We work very closely with our OB/GYN physicians to make sure female veterans at the DeBakey VA Medical Center get the best care possible both before and after their embolization procedure," said Peter Lin, M.D., chief of Vascular Surgery at the MEDVAMC.

During uterine fibroid embolization a small cut is made in the crease at the top of the leg to access the femoral artery. A small catheter is inserted into the artery. The arteries that supply the blood to the uterine fibroid are injected with small particles, which block blood supply to the fibroid. The surgeon continues to add the particles until the blood supply to the uterine fibroid is cut off completely or nearly completely. Other uterine tissue remains unharmed by uterine fibroid embolization because other arteries supply it.

"This new procedure safely reduces the size and symptoms of the fibroids. It decreases menstrual bleeding, urinary frequency, pelvic pain, and pressure. Many women have reported a significant improvement in their quality of life and are pleased they are able to avoid more drastic and invasive surgeries," said MEDVAMC Vascular Physician Ruth Bush, M.D.

If you are a female veteran and are interested in learning more about this new treatment for symptomatic fibroids, please contact the MEDVAMC Vascular Surgery Clinic at (713) 794-7892 for more information.

Point of Contact: VHAHOU Public Affairs