03 May Embolization Exposed
The quote “just because you can do something doesn’t’ mean you should” is the perfect way to describe embolization, a “non-invasive” procedure to treat uterine fibroids used by interventional radiologist (IR) physicians.
In fact, Embolization is anything but non-invasive. This is a procedure that uses plastic particles injected into the arteries of fibroids that essentially ‘clog up” the arteries and kill the fibroids by stopping their blood supply. IR physicians tout this procedure as a better alternative to surgery, but in fact Embolization IS a surgical procedure, and often results in more pain and discomfort as well as prolonged symptoms and fertility compromise when compared to techniques and procedures Dr. MacKoul uses for fibroid removal.
Embolization vs LAAM – Laparoscopic Assisted Myomectomy
Comparing Embolization for fibroid treatment to the LAAM technique reveals some very important differences. First, Embolization never REMOVES fibroids, but tries to “kill” fibroids for treatment. Killing fibroids shuts off the blood supply to them, causing them to “degenerate” or die which causes severe contractions of the uterus for most patients. The pain can be quite severe and can last longer than two weeks. Death of the fibroids takes time, and in many patients months, years, or never for the procedure to shrink the fibroids enough to relieve symptoms. Common fibroid symptoms are due to the “bulk” of the fibroids pressing on the bladder causing frequency of urination or pushing on the bowel and abdominal wall cause bloating, distension, constipation, or diarrhea. Many patients have back pain and pelvic pressure due to large fibroids. Even more concerning is that not removing fibroids may not benefit fertility patients, and it is known that embolized fibroids can potentially increase the risk of miscarriage and infertility. Finally, the plastic particles of embolization are known to back up into the ovaries, causing decreased blood flow to the ovaries and decreased ovarian function and infertility.
Benefits of the LAAM Procedure
Techniques such as the LAAM procedure – Laparoscopic Assisted Myomectomy – eliminate all the problems that Embolization can cause or not treat effectively, and in a recovery time that is similar and often better with less pain. Why? Because LAAM actually REMOVES the fibroids from the uterus and does so in about 1 hour with a recovery of back to work in 2 weeks. This means that the bleeding and bulk symptoms are resolved immediately in a one hour procedure, and patients are able to go home the same day with immediate resolution of their symptoms and preservation of fertility. Removal of the fibroids treats the bleeding, urinary issues, back and pelvic pain, bloating and distension, as well as bowel and other symptoms quickly and effectively. Most importantly since LAAM removes the fibroids it can increase the potential for fertility, not decrease it as with Embolization. LAAM will also NOT affect ovarian blood flow and function. These are very important concerns for fertility patients to ensure their options are not negatively affected by Embolization.
Well informed patients can protect themselves from negative impacts due to medical treatments by truly understanding the benefits, risks, and alternatives available to them. LAAM is a superior option for any patient, fertility seeking or otherwise, and should always be considered as the best treatment option available for fibroid management. Consult Dr, MacKoul for more information about your case, and how LAAM can help you achieve your goals safely and effectively.