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Shrinking fibroids: ACESSA treatment helps avoid surgery

A new laparoscopic procedure is shrinking fibroids and helping women avoid invasive surgery.

BALTIMORE — More than 25 million American women, ages 15 to 50, have uterine fibroids, which are non-cancerous growths in the uterus that can cause pain and abnormal bleeding. 

For some women, a hysterectomy – surgical removal of the uterus – is the best option. But now, a new laparoscopic procedure is shrinking fibroids and helping women avoid invasive surgery.

Over the past few months, Tia Johnson’s life and health have taken a good turn. The mom of six is newly married and feeling great after years of struggling with discomfort and abnormal bleeding from a fibroid.

“It [the fibroid] was nine centimeters," she said. "I was told it was the size of a baby's head. It was inside of my uterus, not on the outside."

Johnson’s doctor suggested a medication that would put her into menopause and decrease the fibroid, or a hysterectomy, which could mean up to eight weeks of recovery.

“I could not imagine having to take off work for any length of time to have that done,” Johnson explains.

Latasha Murphy, MD, a minimally invasive gynecologic surgeon at Mercy Medical Center, suggested a new procedure called ACESSA. Doctors operate laparoscopically through two tiny incisions in the abdomen.

“We can pinpoint exactly where in the uterus we want to treat, and that's the fibroid and limit the treatment just to the fibroid itself," Dr. Murphy explained.

When the device heats up, it causes the tissue to soften.

“During the surgery, you can see the fibroids shrinking right before your eye."

Johnson felt the difference almost immediately. As a bonus, fibroids can wreck a woman’s sex drive. With the fibroid gone…

“Everything came back. So, my husband's happy,” Johnson said.

Dr. Murphy says the procedure can be repeated if necessary to treat any new fibroids that develop. Many health insurance companies do cover the ACESSA procedure although the patient co-pays may vary.

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