What are uterine fibroids?
Uterine fibroids are benign growths of the uterus.
Fibroids can be found:
Bulge of the inside of the uterus (submucosa)
In the muscular wall of the uterus (myometrium)
Extending outside the uterus (serosa)
About 8 out of 10 women will have fibroids at some point in their lives.
Most women with fibroids have no symptoms and do not need treatment. But women who need treatment have medical and surgical options. One type of surgical treatment is radiofrequency ablation.
What is RFA?
RFA is a surgical procedure performed under general anesthesia that uses heat to destroy fibrous tissue.
Laparoscopic RFA is a minimally invasive procedure performed with a laparoscope, a thin tool with a camera on the end. This allows the doctor to see the uterus and know where the fibroids are.
The doctor makes two small incisions in the navel and lower stomach. Then they insert small tools to make the fibroids smaller using heat and energy (ablation).
Where does RFA take place and who does it?
A gynecologist usually performs the procedure on an outpatient basis, and patients usually go home a few hours after surgery.
Who are the best candidates for RFA?
RFA is recommended for people with symptoms who wish to preserve their uterus.
People with “loose symptoms,” which enlarge the uterus, are the best candidates.
General symptoms include:
How to prepare for RFA?
Ask a surgeon how often he performs these types of surgeries. Try to find one who often performs gynecological surgery.
Have a biopsy done before RFA.
If recommended, have an ultrasound or MRI before RFA.
Make sure your Pap and HPV tests are up to date.
Make sure you are not pregnant.
If you have an IUD (intrauterine device), have it removed before surgery.
What can you expect when recovering from RFA?
You can feel ready to return to work and activities within 4-7 days.
During the first days after surgery, you may experience:
You should not put anything in your vagina for two weeks after surgery.
Many patients find that RFA is effective in getting rid of their symptoms within 3-6 months.
What are the risks of RFA?
All surgeries carry some risk of anesthesia-related complications, as well as the risk of infection, blood clots, and bleeding.
Laparoscopic RFA is a low risk procedure. But the risks can include:
Injury to the bladder, bowels, or other organs near the uterus
Vaginal cramps and discharge after surgery
New fibroids appearing and needing treatment
Possible complications in future pregnancies
This resource was created with support from Hologic.