Local News

Women Have Another Option In Dealing With Fibroid Tumors

Posted April 16, 2001 3:25 a.m. EDT

— In the past, women have only had the option of a hysterectomy or hormone therapy to relieve the pain and symptoms of fibroid tumors on their uterus. Doctors now have a different way of stopping the tumors.

Onethia Wideman suffered for years with the cramping, bleeding and pain of fibroids.

"I could not sleep. I would walk and cry and hold my stomach. Sometimes, I would be on the floor," she says.

Wideman decided to undergo a process called fibroid embolization. The procedure uses a small incision in the groin. A catheter is inserted to release little spheres into the uterus. The spheres are about the size of the tip of a ballpoint pen.

"They essentially float into the blood stream and are flow-directed into the fibroid vessels," says radiologist Dr. Lisa Morgan. They have a greater blood flow than the regular uterine vessels, so these particles preferentially will go into the fibroid vessels.

They lodge in vessels as they become smaller and they stay there, and they block the blood flow," she says.

After fibroid embolization, all the little vessels disappear and leave a normal blood flow. The procedure takes about an hour. Wideman says she has now new life, thanks to the procedure.

"I could not stand to walk, I could not stand to listen to anyone talk, It was just really bad," she says. "But after the procedure, it was like I was in a whole new world with no more hurting or no more pain. My life is back to normal now."

The uterus returns to its normal function as it recovers. Although most women do not wish to become pregnant after the procedure, there have been reports of some pregnancies in Europe, where this has been done for about a decade.

The procedure is also being done at other hospitals in the area including Duke and UNC.