Focused Ultrasound Surgery for Uterine Fibroids

Procedure details

Focused ultrasound surgery (FUS) is a noninvasive treatment option for uterine fibroids — noncancerous growths of the uterus. To determine whether you're a good candidate for focused ultrasound surgery, your doctor may perform a pelvic magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan before treatment.
Focused ultrasound surgery — also called magnetic resonance-guided focused ultrasound surgery or focused ultrasound ablation — happens while you're inside an MRI scanner equipped with a high-energy ultrasound transducer.
The MRI images give your doctor the precise location of a uterine fibroid and the locations of nearby structures to be avoided, such as the bowel and bladder. While the MRI monitors the targeted fibroid and surrounding structures, the ultrasound transducer delivers focused sound waves into the fibroid. The sound waves heat and destroy small areas of fibroid tissue until most or all of the fibroid is destroyed.
Not widely available, focused ultrasound surgery typically is done at specialized clinics.

Why it's done
Eases bothersome symptoms associated with uterine fibroids, including heavy menstrual bleeding and pelvic pain and pressure
Provides a noninvasive alternative to surgical treatment of fibroids
Is done on an outpatient basis
Typically allows a rapid return to normal activities after the procedure
Although focused ultrasound surgery offers many advantages over other fibroid treatment options, it's not the best option for everyone. It may not be a good choice for you if:
You have multiple abdominal scars that make it difficult to find a safe path between the transducer and the fibroid
You have many fibroids or very large fibroids
You want to optimize your chance of a future pregnancy
A number of women have had successful pregnancies after treatment. However, long-term effects on a woman's ability to become pregnant and carry a baby to term haven't been studied adequately.

Rarely, focused ultrasound surgery results in:
Burns to the skin on your abdomen
Damage to tissues and structures near the fibroid targeted for treatment
Nerve stimulation causing temporary back or leg pain after the procedure
Blood clots in your legs (deep vein thrombosis)
Other drawbacks specific to focused ultrasound surgery include:
Less long-term data on safety and effectiveness than most other fibroid treatments
Less data on fertility and pregnancy than with other fibroid treatments
As with many other fibroid treatments, when you have focused ultrasound surgery:
You may have some fibroids that may not be able to be treated
You may require further treatment if your symptoms return.

Written by Mayo Clinic Staff