Endometrial ablation procedure involves destruction of the endometrium that lines the uterus. Find more information related to endometrial ablation procedure by going through the following article.
One of the most important organ of the female reproductive system is the uterus. Every month the lining of the uterus, called the endometrium is shed as a part of the menstruation cycle. However, some women complain of heavy bleeding during their menstruation or longer period duration. In such a case, the doctor may suggest an endometrial ablation procedure. It is always a good idea to gather some information related to any medical procedure.
What is Endometrial Ablation?
This is a medical procedure that is used to ablate (remove) the endometrial lining in the uterus. It is a method used for women who do not wish to undergo hysterectomy. It is very helpful for women with a prolonged menstrual cycle or those who suffer from excessive bleeding. These women are at risk of developing anemia and suffer from breathlessness, fatigue as well as fainting spells.
Why is Endometrial Ablation Done?
This procedure helps in treating heavy bleeding in cases where a potential treatable cause is not found. This means women with polyps or non-cancerous growths in the lining of the womb can bleed a lot. It may also be due to an underlying hormonal problem causing excessive shedding and bleeding during menstruation. If these or any other valid reasons are not found, the doctor may suggest endometrial ablation. This procedure is not for women who have tumors or fibroids in their uterus.
What is the Procedure for Endometrial Ablation?
Before carrying out the endometrial ablation procedure, the doctor will check for cancer. If there are no signs of cancer whatsoever, s/he will prescribe you with medications for up to 2 months. These medications help in decreasing the thickness of the endometrium and make it thinner. This helps in making the procedure easy as well as reduce the amount of blood loss during the operation. Endometrial ablation procedure is a day surgery case and the patient is allowed to go home the same day after a few hours.
Now, this procedure takes up to 30 to 45 minutes to complete. The patient is put under general anesthesia during the procedure. A hysteroscope, a telescope like device is inserted into the uterus, through the cervix. This device helps the doctor view the inner lining of the uterus before carrying out the procedure. Next, the probes that will help destroy the lining is passed through the vagina into the cervix and then the uterus. In case of thermal ablation, the probe is circulated around the lining of the uterus and heated saline burns the tissues. This procedure helps decrease the amount of menstrual bleeding in 68% of the cases.
Other methods include use of Thermachoice III balloon that helps destroy the uterine lining with the help of a balloon filled with heated fluid. The balloon can is flexible and is made of a non-allergenic material. It helps reducing the heavy blood during menstruation in about 80% of the cases. Another successful method includes the Novasure system, where a mesh is placed in the uterine cavity. Electric current is passed through the mesh and the endometrium is destroyed through thermal damage. This method is successful in about 78% of the cases. Other methods of endometrial ablation include:
- Laser thermal ablation
- Thermal ablation using radio waves
- Microwave endometrial ablation (MEA)
After the procedure the patient is rolled back to their ward or room. As the effects of anesthesia wear off, one may experience a little pain. For the pain, the doctor may prescribe a few pain killers. Apart from that, the woman is required to wear sanitary towels or pads as she may have some vaginal bleeding. When the woman feels better after a few hours, the doctor will allow her discharge. She may be called back after a few days for the follow-up.
Effectiveness of Endometrial Ablation
It has been found, this medical procedure is effective in about 90% of the women who opt for it. It has stopped periods in about 45% of the cases. Hysterectomy is required only in about 22% of cases who have undergone ablation.
Endometrial Ablation Procedure Risk Factors
There are a few complications, just as they are in any medical procedure. This is generally a safe procedure that may have a few side effects in some cases. The possible complications of this procedure include:
- Excessive bleeding
- Formation of a blood clot
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Inflammation of the uterine lining
- Urinary tract or bladder infection
- Damage to the uterus or bowel
- Perforation of the uterine wall
- Pulmonary edema or embolism
Endometrial ablation procedure is not meant for women who wish to get pregnant in future. This is because it may affect the fertility of women who still want to have children. Also, women who may have cancer or tumor in the womb, should avoid this procedure completely. Alternatives for this procedure include use of medications like oral contraceptive pills in combination. Some women can get an intra-uterine system (IUS) placed in their uterus. If nothing else works, hysterectomy is the only option. Thus, make sure you weigh all the alternatives and their outcomes, especially if you are hoping to get pregnant.