Uterus with fibroids inside and out: image via us.insightec.comAn estimated 50 to 70 percent of women are diagnosed with uterine fibroids or tumors. Though the majority of fibroids are not cancerous, removal may still be advised if fibroids cause pain, bleeding, urinary, bowel, and/or sexual discomfort. But, until Acessa™, the first non-invasive surgery system for the removal of uterine fibroids, received FDA approval in late 2012, women had to face major surgery, possibly even hysterectomy, to remove them. Since the spring of 2013, several hospitals in almost a dozen major cities have adopted the new Acessa Procedure as their treatment of choice for non-cancerous fibroid removal.
The Acessa Procedure, developed by Halt Medical, Inc. uses radiofrequency ablation, RFA, a technique already used to correct certain types of cardiac arrhythmias. Thermal ablation, which involves destroying the fibroid cells through heat, had already been utilized, but was an imprecise way of ablating the cells as the prod might have to be applied to different parts of the tumor, which could not be seen in its entirety. Also, thermal ablation caused internal scarring.
Acessa™ Generator: Source: Halt Medical Inc, Acessa Generator
Acessa™ Handpiece: Source: Halt Medical Inc, Acessa HandpieceAcessa™ Electrode Array: Source: Halt Medical Inc, Acessa Electrode Array
Using RFA technology, Halt Medical designed a system using a Generator, an electrosurgical Handpiece, and a deployable Electrode Array. Simply put, the Generator provides an alternating current to the tip of the Handpiece which targets the tissue to be ablated, aided by laproscopic ultrasound capable of detecting tumor tissue on the inside and outside of the uterus as well as capturing 360° of the tumor. Depending on the extent of the tumor, the Electrodes may be deployed or not.
The Acessa System is reported to be a much more thorough, more rapid, and safer procedure for the removal of fibroids than thermal ablation. Though administered under general anesthesia, the RFA procedure is done on an out-patient basis, so the patient is home the same day, takes a rest, and goes back to her normal routine within a day or two - pain free, no bleeding, and she still has her uterus!
This video describes the procedure and an Acessa patient describes her experience....
So if you're in Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York City, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, or St. Louis, and you have symptomatic fibroids, you may want to check out which doctors are trained in the Acessa procedure. Much more information about the procedure can be found on the Acessa website and the company's Facebook page.
The Acessa System was awarded a Gold medal in the radiological and electromechanical devices
category at the 15(th) Annual Medical Design Excellence Awards competition in June, 2013. Sounds like a winner.
Sources: HeraldOnline, HaltMedical, Halt Medical Facebook, Sinai Grace, Wikipedia