Uterine Fibroid Embolization

 

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Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE)

  

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

 

Information about UFE for women in and around San Antonio, Texas.

For an appointment call: (210) 616-7780

(If you cannot get though on that line call 210.617.9071)

 

  

Fibroids are very common; 70% of women develop fibroids. Many women never become symptomatic and can safely ignore their fibroids. But at least 1/4 of women with fibroids will get symptoms severe enough to justify doing something. In San Antonio there are, at any time, about 13,000 women suffering with fibroids. Each year 1500 of them will undergo hysterectomy. UFE is safer than hysterectomy, has a shorter recovery time and will get rid of the fibroids without the need for surgery. If you are one of those 11,500 suffering women trying to avoid surgery UFE might be your solution. And if you are considering hysterectomy, you would be well served to read the rest of this page before you decide.

Most women to go home a few hours after UFE!

A decade ago I kept all of my patients overnight in the hospital. But recently I started numbing the nerves of the uterus during the UFE procedure. This simple and safe modification has made an impressive difference...most women have only mild pain after UFE and can go home a few hours after the procedure.

It is similar to what a dentist does when he/she injects numbing medicine into your gum prior to doing a procedure on your teeth.

Cancer spread by hysterectomy?

Follow link for information on the latest news about cancer being made worse in women by a hysterectomy technique.

 

KSAT 12 in San Antonio report on UFE

Its a bit dated, but On November 30th 2012 Ursula Pari did a report on fibroids during which she interviewed Dr. Thomas and one of his patients, Ms. Carmen Garcia. Carmen found me by searching the web as she felt dissatisfied that the only option her gynecologist presented was hysterectomy.

If the above link does not work cut and paste the following into your browser's address line:

http://www.ksat.com/lifestyle/health/New-treatment-for-fibroid-tumors/-/478162/17616532/-/n15qn6z/-/index.html

 

Here are some positive things my patients had to say after UFE*

"Everything you said would happen following the procedure, did.  I wasn't surprised at anything...Thank you again for being so thorough and honest. You rock." 

Alexandra

 

"uterine fibroid embolization...has changed my life in so many positive ways and I still have the possibility of having children in the future."

-Lori

* Please note, UFE is not ideal for every woman, and it is a procedure that has known complications just like any other medical procedure. I can help you decide if UFE is right for you through the information on this site as well as during our clinic encounter.

I am a big proponent of UFE because I have seen how well it works for my patients. In fact, while I try to present a fair and balanced assessment, what I say is biased because I perform UFE while other doctors do not. For an objective review of treatment options for fibroids, please see Information for Patients on treatment options for Fibroids on UpToDate.com

From an article in the Wall Street Journal from 2004...yes, that's 10 years ago:

"My gynecologist didn't say a word about UFE," says Collette Styles,...she got on the Internet and learned about UFE. "I didn't want anybody cutting on me. I didn't want anybody removing my uterus," she says. After undergoing UFE in January, she left the hospital the same day, sporting a Band Aid. She returned to work as a flight attendant one week later, free of fibroid troubles, she says. A hysterectomy could have grounded her for as long as eight weeks. "

Fast forward to 2014

A decade later...we are stuck in the same rut.

Actually, things have gotten worse! More hysterectomies are now being performed than ever before, thanks in large part to the surgical robot.  "Robotic Hysterectomy" is the name of this surgery. An article in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2013 reported that robotic hysterectomy for benign problems like fibroids is no safer than other less invasive hysterectomies but costs a lot more. On average the cost went up 33% from $6700 to $8900, a $2,200 increase in cost for no gain in safety.

 

 

 

UFE is "safe and effective"*

American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) position on UFE

* Please note, UFE is not ideal for every woman, and it is a procedure that has known complications just like any other medical procedure. I can help you decide if UFE is right for you.

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The cutting edge of medicine, without the cutting!

 

My name is John W. Thomas, MD, FACR. I am a member of South Texas Radiology Group; serving San Antonio, Texas, and the surrounding area.  I am an interventional radiologist. We use high-tech imaging (ultrasound, CT, X-ray) to guide procedures that are performed through tiny nicks in your skin.

Interventional Radiology is the cutting edge of medicine, without the cutting! Most medical specialties focus on one body part or disease (a Cardiologist deals with the the organ the heart, an Oncologist deals with the disease cancer), but in Interventional Radiology we apply our techniques to all diseases in all parts of the body.

We initiated a program to treat women with symptomatic fibroids in early 1999 so we are highly experienced in performing UFE.  I have personally treated over a thousand women in those 14 years. I perform many types of procedures for a variety of disorders for both men and women; UFE is of particular interest to me as it is so effective; just about the best therapy we have for any disease.

UFE is also known as UAE (Uterine Artery Embolization...the exact same procedure as UFE). This site presents basic information about the procedure and specific information about our services. 

UFE is not an experimental procedure. Based on Level A evidence (the best evidence in medicine) the American College of OB/GYN recognizes UFE as a "safe and effective option for women who wish to retain their uteri."

While most gynecologists in the San Antonio area understand the opinion of their national professional society, there are many of the mindset that hysterectomy is still the best treatment. Keep in mind that doctors are under no legal obligation to mention what they consider competitive procedures like UFE to you as an alternative. Unless YOU ask about UFE, your gynecologist might never bring it up. If your doctor tells you it is unsafe or a bad idea for you ask him/her for specific reasons why and then let me review those issues with you.

Hysterectomy is a great surgical solution, but it is a pretty radical step when your only problem is fibroids. Yet the most common reason for a hysterectomy in the U.S. is fibroids.

It is your body...it is your decision.

Most women with large fibroids who chose surgery must undergo abdominal hysterectomy rather than the less invasive laparoscopic, robotic,  or vaginal hysterectomies. These 3 women posted photographs of their hysterectomy scars online:

   

 

Why take the risk of ending up with a large, unflattering scar?

 

Now here is a photo of one of my actual UFE patients:

 

 

She has no scar because there was no incision! UFE is done through a tiny (size of a pencil point) nick in the skin at your groin crease. When I see you for our follow-up visit after your UFE I find that most women have a miniscule scar or no scar at all at the site! Before her UFE her tummy protruded as if she were pregnant.

 

You don't need a doctor's referral to see me (unless required by your insurance company). You can call and make an appointment to see me right now. Call (210) 616-7780.

call for an appointment:  (210) 616-7780

If you would like a recommendation of gynecologists who have track records of telling their patients about the UFE option, let me know and I will provide you with some names.

Also, three of my partners perform UFE, Dr Amit Mehta , Dr David Bynum, and Dr Steven Chen

 

"The weight of my uterus was unbearable, pregnancy was more comfortable! I developed large painful varicose veins, back pain, my clothes didn't fit, my personal life was tanking and I was losing bladder control."

-Celia

 

Our patients with fibroids have experienced excellent results. See the testimonials page for their point of view.  

I prefer to perform the procedure at the main Methodist hospital in the medical center as I have a thoroughly trained team of technologists and nurses to assist us

Navigate this site by the links at the upper left corner of the page. Other links will appear at the top of each page as you proceed. If you want to learn more about this procedure follow the Patient/Consumer link. If you are interested in never having to worry about contraception and avoiding surgery follow the Want permanent birth control? link. If you are a physician you should follow the Physician link. For recent reports about UFE in the news follow the UFE in the News link. Or search the entire site via the Search link.

Please feel free to contact me by e-mail or you can call my clinic at 210.616.7780 or 1 (800) 317-0774

In 2006 we began to offer a completely non-invasive method of permanent birth control for women. Information about that non-surgical procedure is also found on my site.

Looking for a non-surgical method of permanent birth control?

 

 

 

The Interventional Radiology Clinic (IRC) is now a part of South Texas Radiology Imaging Centers (STRIC).

We moved from our original location on Huebner, the IRC now has two locations:

1) Women's Imaging Center on the first floor of the Methodist Plaza building in the medical center.

2) Hardy Oak Imaging & Interventional Center across from Methodist Stone Oak Hospital. Here I also see patients with a wide variety of disorders, though our special focus at this location is treatment of varicose veins

STRIC IRC are the places where we meet patients interested in learning more about and being assessed for UFE as well as many other interventional radiology procedures.

Voice (210) 616-7780 (BTW they may answer "Texas Vein Clinic"...this is also the IRC)

   Toll Free 1 (800) 317-0774

Fax (210) 616-7789

Women's Imaging: 4499 Medical Drive, Suite 171, San Antonio, TX 78229

Hardy Oaks Imaging: 18707 Hardy Oak Blvd. Suite 100, San Antonio, TX 78258

www.stric.com

Contact me by email: jt@drjohnthomas.com

 

If you are looking for an Interventional Radiologist in your area, visit the Society of Interventional Radiology's www site and follow the link that allows you to search for doctors performing UFE in your state or region. 

The SIR site also has information that will help you understand my subspecialty. After all, most people think of radiologists as doctors who read x-rays and drink a lot of coffee. My subspecialty is more like "image-guided alternatives to surgery"; though I do drink a lot of coffee.

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This page was last updated on Tuesday, September 30, 2014

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