Uterine fibroid is one of the commonest benign tumor amongst women. It is present in 30% of premenopausal women and is the main indication for hysterectomy. Currently, there is no effective medical treatment available. The uterine artery ablation has been offered as alternatives to surgical treatment (hysterectomy) but its clinical application is limited.
The MRI guided focused ultrasound is a minimally invasive fibroid treatment that uses a tightly focused ultrasound waves to deliver heat that instantaneously destroys fibroid tissue. It is performed as an outpatient procedure with sedation. The fibroid location is identified using T2-weighted MR imaging followed by a pretreatment planning and application of multiple therapeutic sonications to a temperature of at least 65 degree Celsius. The heat generated basically ablates the fibroid tissue. The whole procedure takes about two to three hours. The recovery time of about one to three days appears promising as a viable alternative to the current surgical option.
There are many reports of the experience with this treatment modality. These reports were not from a high quality study design and occasionally sponsored by industry that are prone to bias and confounding.
There is only one randomized, placebo-controlled trial (PROMISe) to date, that assess the effectiveness of MRIgFUS therapy. This is a high quality study and has a post treatment follow-up period of 2 years duration. The result shows there is no diffence between MRIgFUS and placebo group, in terms of symptom improvement and quality of life at 4 to 12 weeks post procedure. However, about a third (30%) of all women who had MRIgFUS therapy opted for hysterectomy by 2 years post treatment.
In summary, the MRIgFUS treatment for uterine seems promising and avoids the need for surgery. Currently, the available results suggest its role as a temporary alternative treatment prior to the decision for hysterectomy, at best.
PROMISe trial (Pilot Randomized trial of MRIgFUS for symptomatic fibroid) trial. Fert Steril 2016
Alternative therapies in management of leiomyomas. Fert Steril 2014
Clinical improvement and shrinkage of uterine fibroids after thermal ablation by magnetic resonance-guided focused ultrasound surgery. Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol 2007.
Clinical outcomes of focused ultrasound surgery for the treatment of uterine fibroids. Fert Steril 2006