MRgFUS Treatment for Fibroid Symptoms

fibroids symptoms

MRgFUS stands for Magnetic Resonance-guided Focused Ultrasound. This non-invasive technique uses an MRI thermal imaging system to continuously measure temperature changes inside the body, pinpointing and guiding the treatment. This is a relatively new, FDA-approved, treatment for uterine fibroids. The treatment provides relief from pelvic pain and heavy bleeding on period and other fibroids symptoms. The procedure is non-invasive and preserves the uterus.

How MRgFUS works

MR-guided focused ultrasound (MRgFUS) is performed on an outpatient basis and patients return to normal activities within a few days. The procedure is performed with the woman lying on her stomach in an MRI scanner for three hours under conscious sedation.  (A Foley catheter is inserted into the bladder to make the procedure more comfortable for the patient. An ultrasound probe is located under the abdomen and uterus, and a water bath is used to maximize acoustic contact between the skin and ultrasound transducer. It is common to feel the sensation of cramping or pain during the procedure. A nurse who is with the patient at all times administers medications to make the patient feel as comfortable as possible.

The high intensity ultrasound waves generated from the ultrasound probe are focused to small regions in the fibroid and cause the temperature of the fibroid to rise, which results in cellular death of the fibroid. Following the procedure, the Foley catheter is removed. After approximately one to two hours of recovery, the patient is able to go home.

Most patients report some immediate improvement in their symptoms within one month of the procedure.  Heavy bleeding from fibroids can be so excessive that some women must seek comfort by using menstrual cups. The procedure works by allowing them to participate in their activities without having to worry about pads and tampons. Other women who have had pressure in the bladder achieve welcome relief as the fibroids shrink and die.

Benefits and expected results

MR-guided focused ultrasound (MRgFUS) offers a number of benefits.  It is an effective alternative to open surgery or hormonal treatment.  No overnight hospital stay is required, and MR-guided focused ultrasound is a completely non-invasive procedure, meaning there is no surgery, no incision and no blood loss.   As a result, the patient can return to her normal activities within a few days.  The procedure preserves the uterus, cervix and ovaries.  In addition, there is significant improvement in the patient's quality of life by decreasing menstrual bleeding, lessening the frequency of a heavy period from symptomatic fibroids and decreasing urinary dysfunction pelvic pressure or pelvic pain.

fibroids symptoms

Research has shown that more than 70 percent of women experience significant improvement in the severity of their fibroid-related symptoms within the first six months after MRgFUS.  The most current research has found women reporting relief from their fibroid symptoms for up to 24 months — the longest follow-up period to date.

While dedicated research regarding pregnancy following MR-guided focused ultrasound (MRgFUS) is lacking, many women have gone on to have normal pregnancies and deliveries after the MRgFUS procedure.  Very little is known yet regarding the effects of the procedure on the uterus in women who desire pregnancy.  No one can yet predict future fertility following this procedure.  As a result, this is a good topic to discuss with your doctor during your consultation.