The Juan F. Luis Hospital on St. Croix announced exciting news for women’s health as they introduced a new procedure for removing fibroids at a town hall held at the hospital on Wednesday. Panelists included Hologic representative Keith Weeks, Obstetrics and Gynecology for St. Croix Dr. Olivine Treasure, and Dr. Michele Berkley. They presented to a crowd of about 30 attendees.
Uterine fibroids are benign tumors that grow in or on the uterus. Every year, approximately 540,000 hysterectomies are performed in the U.S. for non-cancerous conditions, including uterine fibroids. The Acessa procedure was the first to be performed on six patients on St. Croix, the first in the Caribbean.
The procedure requires a patient to be brought into the operating room, where a physician then makes three small incisions in the stomach. Each fibroid is then precisely located with an ultrasound probe called a laparoscopic ultrasound and guidance mapping technology, allowing a full view of the uterus. The tip of the Acessa handpiece then deploys into the fibroid while preserving the healthy uterus tissue. The controlled heat is then deployed to each fibroid to destroy the tissue and is repeated until every targeted fibroid is fully treated. The patient is then cleared to go home the same day and able to return to work within four to five days.
Panelist Dr. Treasure said, “We are very excited about this because it checks all the boxes that you would want to have checked to see what the ideal intervention or surgical procedure with the lowest risk of complications and the quickest and easiest recovery is.”
Weeks said the procedure is a “less invasive option, rapid recovery and minimal operative pain, and the decline in blood loss is huge.”
“This procedure has very minimal blood loss, close to zero when done right,” said Weeks.
According to the panelists, only 100 physicians within the United States conduct the procedure developed in 2012.
Treasure said that she saw the procedure at a trade show a few years back. “Every year, or every few months we visit another hospital to see what they are doing new. We ask what we can bring back to St. Croix that the women stateside have.”
She continued, “The traditional way to remove fibroids would mean cutting the abdomen and cutting into the uterus and trying to feel each fibroid, well, you can’t feel all of them. What’s nice is you get to do a sonogram at the same time so we can get the fibroids that were previously missed. Instead of the fibroid being outside of our tummies, the fibroids are on the uterus so we can see ones we missed before.”
Treasure said that there is a greater rate in locating the fibroid and zapping them. “Also the assisted fact that we get the close-up sonogram where we can see through the uterus better. We see better. We get more fibroids than we would with traditional open surgery that has longer recovery. Our success rates are better as well as our earlier recovery rate.”
Berkley, who called herself and colleagues a “gadgets person,” said, “I feel very honored and happy. I’m a patient as well so it is very important to me.”
Berkley said that the safety profile and recovery are amazing. One of her patients the procedure was conducted on even asked to return to work just two days later, she said. “I was shocked when I saw my patient.”
The Acessa procedure is not meant for everybody, and you should discuss with your gynecologist if you are a perfect candidate for the procedure, the doctors said.