Oct 18, 2000
As the first doctor in the United States to use an advanced new treatment for varicose veins—called endovenous laser—Dr. Robert J. Min, of New York Weill Cornell Medical Center, has naturally attracted a certain amount of attention. So much attention that he thinks that his other main specialty, uterine fibroids, has been somewhat overlooked.
"Uterine fibroids are extraordinarily common," says Dr. Min. "At least 25 to 30 percent of Caucasian women, and 50 percent of African-American women, suffer from them." Many of these women will have symptoms such as heavy bleeding during menstrual periods; bleeding between menstrual periods; pelvic, back, or leg pain or pressure; frequent need to urinate; painful intercourse; and fertility problems, in particular recurrent miscarriages.
As Director of a new New York Weill Cornell center called Cornell Vascular, located at 416 East 55th Street, Dr. Min can advise on the whole range of possible treatments for uterine fibroids, from simply monitoring the condition to the new technique of uterine artery embolization (UAE). UAE should be of particular interest to women who suffer from the problem.
Uterine fibroids are benign growths in the uterus—either just beneath the outer capsule of the uterus, or within the uterine wall. They vary greatly in size and rate of growth. Surgery—whether hysterectomy or myomectomy (removal of the uterus or of just the fibroids)—is one possible treatment.
UAE, a safe and effective minimally invasive technique, is another. "Vascular interventional radiologists have been using transcatheter embolization for many years to treat a variety of conditions," says Dr. Min. "More recently, this technique has been applied to the treatment of uterine fibroids."
In UAE, the doctor injects small particles, the size of grains of sand, into the uterine arteries. The blood supply that feeds uterine fibroids is blocked (embolized); the fibroids shrink, and symptoms improve or disappear. For acute bleeding, most women experience symptomatic relief within 24 hours.
Among the advantages of UAE, it treats all fibroids simultaneously, allows preservation of the uterus in most cases, avoids the risks of general anesthesia and surgery, and usually requires a hospital stay of less than 24 hours. Moreover, should UAE fail, the full range of other treatment options is still available. For women with the common problem of uterine fibroids, the procedure of UAE deserves to be more widely known.