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If you’re a woman with uterine fibroids, you’re not alone. In fact, these non-cancerous growths, which can cause uncomfortable symptoms like pelvic pain, heavy menstrual bleeding, constipation or difficulty emptying the bladder, affect up to 40 percent of women of child-bearing age.

The good news is that only 10 percent of premenopausal women develop symptoms. Even better, Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox offers a non-surgical option for women who do.

Fibroids can range in size from barely detectable to large masses that can give the abdomen the appearance of pregnancy. When fibroid symptoms become unbearable and affect quality of life and health, it may be time to consult a doctor for treatment options.

“Uterine fibroids can grow to the point where they cause heavy bleeding or put pressure on the rectum, bladder, nerves and veins. This can cause pain, constipation or frequent urination. In some of the worst cases, women can experience such excessive bleeding to the point of needing a blood transfusion,” said Feraz Rahman, M.D., interventional radiologist on staff at Silver Cross.

The cause of uterine fibroids is unknown, but research has shown hormones play a role in their development and growth. Estrogen and progesterone stimulate the uterine lining during each menstrual cycle to prepare the body for pregnancy; these hormones can promote fibroid growth. After menopause, fibroids may become smaller due to lower hormone levels.   

Non-Surgical Treatment Option

Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) is a minimally invasive treatment option available at Silver Cross Hospital for women suffering from fibroids who don’t want to undergo hysterectomy, the traditional surgical removal of fibroids. Using advanced imaging equipment, a tiny catheter is inserted into the groin or wrist and guided to the arteries that provide blood to the uterus and fibroids. A special agent is injected to target and block the fibroids’ blood supply, which causes the fibroids to shrink. 

 

“The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecology has come out strongly in favor of the embolization treatment option and states that it is a safe and effective treatment option recommended for women who want to avoid surgery,” Dr. Rahman said.

“UFE has a lower risk of complications compared to the traditional surgical method. Studies have shown that the procedure helps greater than 90 percent of women rid themselves of the uncomfortable symptoms that come with troublesome fibroids. After the procedure, patients spend one night in the hospital for pain control and may experience some flu-like symptoms for a few days, but can return to their normal activity level in approximately one week,” said Rahman.

Offering UFE Abroad

Dr. Rahman currently performs UFE at Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox and had the privilege of performing the procedure abroad at Indus Hospital in Karachi, Pakistan, last year. Indus Hospital is a state-of-the-art philanthropic hospital that relies on charitable donations to provide free healthcare to people in need. 

“I wanted to bring an interventional radiology project to Indus Hospital and offer my knowledge and expertise to patients and physicians,” Dr. Rahman explained. “I felt offering UFE was a way I could make the biggest difference to the women in that region. Indus Hospital had the diagnostic equipment needed to perform the procedure, so with some coordination with the gynecology department and securing the necessary supplies, I was able to perform 14 UFE procedures in one week.”

Since uterine fibroids are not typically an urgent condition, many women who lack healthcare in the Karachi region end up suffering with uncomfortable fibroid symptoms. Dr. Rahman also shared his knowledge and skills with the physicians at Indus Hospital, so performing the UFE procedure could continue after his visit.

“I really enjoyed my visit to Indus Hospital in Karachi and plan on returning in the future with a new interventional radiology project,” he added. “I was just happy to provide UFE to those women that were suffering and improve their quality of life.” 

Free Lecture – Fighting Uterine Fibroids without Surgery

Join Dr. Rahman as he discusses the latest treatment options for treating uterine fibroids, and his recent experience in Pakistan, at Fighting Uterine Fibroids without Surgery, Tuesday, May 21, 6 p.m., at the Silver Cross Conference Center, Pavilion A, 1890 Silver Cross Blvd., New Lenox. Register at www.silvercross.org or by calling 1-888-660-HEAL (4325).

Photo captions: (Top): Dr. Feraz Rahman and the Indus Hospital Interventional Radiology Team prepare to perform a uterine fibroid embolization procedure. They performed the procedure free of charge for 14 poor patients over one week.

(Bottom): Poor Pakistani women traveled for hours and lined up for the opportunity to meet Dr. Rahman and discuss uterine fibroid embolization to treat their painful fibroids.  The doctor's visit, procedure, and post care were provided free of charge at the Indus Hospital in Karachi, Pakistan.

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Physicians on Silver Cross Hospital’s Medical Staff have expertise in their areas of practice to meet the needs of patients seeking their care.  These physicians are independent practitioners on the Medical Staff and are not the agents or employees of Silver Cross Hospital. They treat patients based upon their independent medical judgment and they bill patients separately for their services.