Thousands of SA women silently suffering the devastating symptoms of untreated uterine fibroids
Interventional radiologist Dr Gary Sudwarts has set himself the goal of raising awareness of the debilitating women’s health condition of uterine fibroids, which he believes warrants much greater attention and awareness than it currently receives.
Dr Sudwarts, who practises at Netcare Park Lane Hospital in Johannesburg, as well as UCT Private Academic Hospital in Cape Town, has actively worked to bring non-invasive healthcare treatment alternatives to the large number of South African women whose lives have been negatively impacted by uterine fibroids. Dr Sudwarts and radiologist Dr Maja Wojno will be presenting a free lecture at a public workshop for women on uterine fibroids.
During the workshop, the latest technological advances in the treatment of uterine fibroids will be shared. The doctors will also explain the micro-invasive technique of uterine fibroid embolisation, (UFE), which offers a highly effective treatment alternative for women who have developed fibroids.
The hour-long lecture will be hosted on Thursday, 7 April 2016, at 18h00 for 18h30 at Hazeldene Hall, 22 Ridge Road, Johannesburg. Free and secure parking as well as refreshments will be on offer.
“I find it disconcerting that in today’s times so many South African women are still silently suffering the devastating symptoms of untreated uterine fibroids,” says Dr Sudwarts. “It is also concerning that so many thousands of women in our country, some relatively young, are faced with the prospect of a hysterectomy because of the condition.”
“Nowadays more and more effective treatment options are becoming available for women with severe uterine fibroids, and it is important that they be made aware of the alternatives that are now available to them,” he says.
“Essentially, when symptomatic therapy fails, there are three main surgical options available to treat fibroids and the choice of which to opt for will be influenced by the type, number, location and size of the fibroids present. In some cases a myomectomy, which is a procedure in which the fibroids are removed during open surgery, is indicated. Alternatively, a hysterectomy, where the uterus is removed, may be recommended.
“The latest alternative, which is becoming an increasingly popular choice among those women for whom the procedure is a viable treatment, is uterine fibroid embolisation. This non-invasive procedure has a much lower rate of complications, is less painful with a considerably shorter recovery time compared with either myomectomy or hysterectomy.”
“The UFE procedure is done with the aid of anatomical mapping using x-rays. During the procedure, catheters or thin tubes are inserted into a minor puncture wound in the groin to inject microscopic particles into the arteries supplying the fibroids with nutrients, causing them to shrink dramatically. The patient usually only stays in hospital overnight,” explains Dr Sudwarts.
What are uterine fibroids?
Uterine fibroids are muscular, non-cancerous tumours that develop in the walls of the uterus. They most commonly, although not exclusively, develop in women in their 30s and 40s. Internationally, 20% of women have fibroids although Dr Sudwarts believes that this number is higher in South Africa.
Heavy menstrual bleeding, pelvic pain, back and leg pains, pain during sex, feelings of exhaustion and even a strange urge to eat clay; are just some of the troubling, even debilitating, symptoms that affect many of the hundreds of thousands of South African women who suffer from uterine fibroids. The desire to consume earth or clay is an attempt to replenish the low iron levels caused by heavy menstrual bleeding.
What should women do if they suspect they may have a problem? Dr Sudwarts advises they visit their doctor or gynaecologist. If a patient is diagnosed with uterine fibroids, she would be well advised to find out as much as possible about the condition. “Be sure to ask your doctor about all of the possible treatment options that are available for your particular situation,” he adds.
Dr Sudwarts says the clinical outcomes of UFE compare most favourably with other treatment options, yet it is a much simpler and safer procedure. It is a recommended treatment in countries such as the United Kingdom where the National Health Service (NHS) promotes it.
“The overwhelming majority of women who have undergone UFE experience significant or total relief from heavy bleeding, pain and bloating. Other problems it can help resolve include a general feeling of heaviness and discomfort, constipation, urinary frequency and leg or back pain.”
UFE is offered at Netcare Park Lane, Netcare Sunward Park and Netcare Linksfield hospitals in Johannesburg, Netcare Unitas Hospital in Pretoria, UCT Private Academic Hospital in Cape Town, Universitas Private Hospital in Bloemfontein and Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital in Durban.
Please see the following video link on uterine fibroids: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iaFT_m6Y3oc