How non-invasive technologies can improve treatment of fibroid
The estimated prevalence rate of fibroid in Nigeria is about 80 percent, however, improvements in quality of life, and significant advancements in fibroid treatment, suggest that High Intensity Focus Ultrasound (HIFU) offer safer alternatives to surgery, experts say.
HIFU is a non-invasive treatment for fibroids that is less painful, preserves the uterus and allows women to get back to their lives sooner than surgical options.
“Women have options for treating fibroids; we are here to look at the latest treatment as about so about 80 percent of the Nigerian women may likely develop fibroid,” said Abayomi Ajayi, managing director Nordica Fertility Centre at the Fibroid Conference which took place recently in Lagos.
According to Ajayi, This is always a topical issue whenever you talk about fibroid and the cause effects are different. Quite a number of people do not develop symptoms, but those who have symptoms do experience excessive prolong bleeding, irregular bleeding to infertility.
“The treatment of fibroid has transcended from very invasive, to minimal invasive, invasive in that you have to do surgery, cut the woman open, she stays in the hospital for like one week, which was later reduced to three to four days and then she has to recover for about six weeks before she can go back to work.
From there, we went to minimally invasive, which is laparoscopic surgery. But now, there is a non-invasive a method called the High-Intensity Focus Ultrasound (HIFU), which is the use of ultrasound to treat fibroid,” he explained.
Explaining further Ajayi said presently the technology is not available in Nigeria, but we are trying to bring it into the country and we want people to be aware at the moment that there is a more-safer way to remove fibroid, so patients do not need to be afraid.
“I believe Nigerians would embrace it, If we can embrace IVF, then we can embrace HIFU also. However, the limitations I see with HIFU technology, like the other minimally invasive procedures are the expertise and the cost,” he said.
Meanwhile, uterine fibroids are noncancerous tumors that develop in or on the muscular walls of the uterus and are among the most common reproductive tract tumors in women.
In addition to an individual’s genetic predisposition, estrogens are well known to play an important role in the regulation of fibroid growth.
Uterine fibroids are benign tumors, they can cause debilitating symptoms such as abnormal uterine bleeding, heavy or painful periods, pregnancy loss, painful intercourse and, in some cases, infertility.
These symptoms can also lead to loss of productivity at work, limitations in normal activities of daily living, and social embarrassment.
Also speaking at the conference Raymond Setzen, Gynaecologist and clinical director of HIFU unit at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital, Soweto, South Africa explained that Fibroid depend on estrogens to grow and women keep producing estrogens until they get to menopause, at age 50 or 51. So even if the fibroid are not causing any harm in the body, most of them will eventually grow due to the estrogens, so it is better to treat them when they are small than when they have become big.
Explaining how the use High Density ultrasound works Setzen said that it a concave machine that produces ultrasound waves noting that because it is concave, it will generate a lot of energy (heat) into the fibroid.
According to him, it does not create any damage to other cells in the body, only the damage that is done is inside to fibroid, and that is because you are cooking the fibroid if you increase the temperature to over 50 to 60 degrees, it will cause the cells that is making the fibroids to grow, to die, and with time, it will shrink on its own.
He further explains that during the procedure, the patients usually are awake to tell the doctor how they are feeling if the temperature is too hot on their skin, and then I have to stop and do some maneuvers, in that way, it is a very safe procedure.
“There are a lot of complications associated with surgery because surgery can damage the bladder and a lot of the time, the patient bleeds a lot. With HIFU, it is a safe procedure for little or no complication. The only side effect is that the patient can get burning on the skin, and to avoid that, we ensure the patient is awake to tell us when the temperature is too hot on the skin, and then we can adjust.” He said.