Treatment procedure

MR-HIFU treatment is carried out on an out-patient basis. This means that patients who are admitted in the morning will leave hospital on the same day.

Preparation

MRI-guided treatment of a medium-sized fibroid using HIFU takes in all around 3 hours. The lengthy treatment time is due to the time-consuming preparations and planning required for the procedure. The treatment itself without preparation takes one or two hours. Before the procedure the patient is positioned over the ultrasound transducer, which is incorporated in the treatment table. When treatment starts you will be given a light sedative, although you will remain fully conscious during the entire procedure.

 

Ablation

During the procedure the patient lies face down in an MRI scanner, which generates three-dimensional images of the fibroid. These pictures can be used by the radiologist to direct focused ultrasound waves at the fibroid, to selectively destroy the growth and to monitor treatment. During the procedure, the MRI technologist determines the precise location of the fibroid and controls the position of the ultrasound waves as well as the temperature attained (real-time image control). The treatment is monitored by the radiologist from a control room.

Focused ultrasound waves are now directed at the fibroid in the womb. The ultrasound passes though the patient’s skin without causing any harm and targets the fibroid. The fibroid is heated to around 65 °C and is thus destroyed. The dead tissue left over after treatment is gradually absorbed by the body. Cooling phases are required between the individual applications of the ultrasound waves. The exact treatment time will depend on the size of the fibroid. The procedure is virtually painfree.

MR-HIFU is an outpatient treatment for fibroids that is painless.

After the procedure

After treatment the patient can leave hospital after resting for two or three hours. The procedure has few potential side effects, and they are much less severe than the complications possibly occurring after a hysterectomy. Side effects are observed in 10 to 20 percent of cases. This may include discomfort during / after treatment, pain caused by the position of the body required for treatment and an unpleasant sensation of heat. After treatment, HIFU patients on average take off just one sick day and can return to their normal physical activities the day after. However, after a hysterectomy performed via the abdominal cavity, patients will be away from work for on average 19 working days.