Penn Researchers to study new ways of interventional treatment for uterine fibroids

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Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine are working on ways to improve the results of a non-surgical method to treat fibroids via new new study on uterine fibroid embolization (UFE). In the study, investigators want to learn how to optimize the procedure, by running a comparison of materials used during it.

"We already know that UFE has an 85 to 90 percent success rate, offering fewrer complications and a shorter recovery time than surgical options, "  said Richard Shlansky-Goldberg, MD, interventional radiologist at Penn and Principal Investigator of this study, explains, " So in 2006, the question becomes, now that we know the procedure is effective and durable,  'Which product would be better?’"

Interventional radiologists do not remove the fibroids during the UFE procedure, but rather shut them down and gradually shrink them by blocking the blood supply to the fibroids. They do this by using a catheter to inject embolic agents into the artery, to  ‘dam up’  the blood flow to the fibroids, according to a release.

For the Penn trial, several researchers will utilize two different embolic agents, comparing the outcomes in patients. Twenty-four hours after each procedure, they will conduct an MRI to see how much fibroid tissue is destroyed.  The radiologists will then have a second look when the patient is ready to go home.

"We hope to answer two questions. One, in looking at the different outcomes of each particle, does one do a more effective job of eliminating fibroids? And two, what does the uterus look like immediately after the UFE procedure and then later, after three months,” said Shlansky-Goldberg.

The clinical trial is expected to last about nine months.

Uterine fibroids, benign, non-cancerous tumors of the uterus, affect more than six million women in the U.S. each year. If left untreated, uterine fibroids can cause infertility. Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) is a minimally invasive alternative to a hysterectomy and is a proven way to treat fibroids and relieve its symptoms of heavy bleeding, pressure, pain, and excessive urination.