7 May 2019
Uterine fibroids are the most common benign tumours in women of reproductive age. They grow along or within walls of the uterus, and are found in approximately 20% – 50% of women.
Also known as leiomyomas, it is important to note that your chances of developing a cancerous growth do not increase because you have uterine fibroids, nor does having them increase your chances of getting other uterine cancers.
In most cases, the symptoms of fibroids are rarely felt, except for an estimated 25 – 30% of women who experience negative symptoms. Fibroids are commonly discovered during pelvic examinations or ultrasounds.
High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) is a new technology applied to the treatment of uterine fibroids.
HIFU focuses high energy ultrasound waves to generate localised heat energy at temperatures above 55°C to achieve cell death (coagulation necrosis) in uterine fibroids. Preserving the uterus, it is a non-invasive and organ-sparing procedure.
Conventionally, uterine fibroids are treated through surgeries such as hysterectomy or myomectomy, which sometimes require weeks of recovery. HIFU on the other hand, requires a much shorter downtime where patients can possibly return to work and daily living the very next day.
Depending on the location and size of your fibroid, HIFU treatment is a therapeutic option that has good potential in women of childbearing age who plan to have children.
You will lie on your stomach on the treatment bed that slides into the opening on an MRI machine. A doctor will monitor and communicate with you from an adjoining room through a microphone.
Before treatment starts, MRI monitoring is first done repeatedly to ensure that the uterus remains in position above the transducer, in order to ensure that there are no interposed intestinal loops or other organs.
Using focused ultrasound waves, the fibroid is heated portion by portion. MRI is used to monitor the temperature of fibroid tissue and determine if the fibroid has been heated enough to achieve tissue necrosis.
Post-treatment, your body will gradually absorb the treated tissue over the course of the following months. In a period of 3 months or longer, a majority of the women who underwent HIFU treatments experience significant improvements in the severity of their symptoms.
Possible Postoperative reactions:
At SOG, Dr. Lee Keen Whye, Dr. Beh Suan Tiong, Dr. Hong Sze Ching and Dr. Clara Ong are among the first doctors in Singapore to successfully provide the HIFU treatment for gynaecological conditions here.
As of April 2019, they have done the most number of HIFU cases (42 cases) for Uterine Fibroids and Adenomyosis in Southeast Asia. Consult one of our specialists to further understand your condition and treatment options.