PGA professional golfer returns to work following non-invasive treatment for uterine fibroids

When professional golf instructor Alison Nicholas developed hip pain, she was surprised to discover that the source of her discomfort was elsewhere, leading her to require treatment at a specialist unit based at Spire Parkway Hospital in Solihull.

Professional golf instructor, Alison Nicholas from Birmingham, developed pain in her hip area. As an active individual, her first thoughts were of a muscular or joint related injury. Following the advice of a physiotherapist, Alison arranged to see a hip specialist who performed an MRI scan. This showed a mass in her uterus and as a result, Alison was referred to a gynaecologist.

Alison explained:“I was surprised to discover the source of my pain wasn’t actually my hip. I had been aware that my periods had become heavy but hadn’t really considered this was the source of my pain.

"I was referred to a gynaecologist who told me I had uterine fibroids. Given I had private medical insurance, I wanted to obtain as much information as I could about the treatment of the condition and discovered a specialist centre – the Birmingham Fibroid Clinic at Spire Parkway in Solihull - offering arange of treatments.”

Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous tumours that grow on the wall of the uterus, with symptoms including heavy bleeding and abdominal pain.While the cause of fibroids isn’t known, it is recognised that they can be hereditary, developing in adult women and increasing in size up to the menopause.

Fibroids are often treated with medication or in severe cases surgery can be required. However, a minimally invasive procedure has recently become available, providing another option for patients.

The procedure, known as Magnetic Resonance guided Focused Ultrasound Surgery (MRgFUS), can be a highly preferable alternative to existing treatments such as hysterectomy that have longer recovery rates of up to eight weeks and also loss of fertility.

Dr Paul Crowe, consultant interventional radiologist who carries out the MRgFUS procedure at Spire Parkway said: “The MRgFUS works by focusing ultrasound energy on the fibroid, raising its temperature and killing the cells without affecting the surrounding tissue. This approach means there is no need for incisions, no need for a general anaesthetic and many patients are able to leave the hospital just a few hours after treatment, returning to normal activities within a couple of days.”

At Spire Parkway the medical teams use a dedicated facility that has a specialist MRI scanner with an attached high intensity ultrasound generator built into the table.The medical staff are able to talk to the patient throughout the procedure, which depending upon the number and size of the fibroids, can last around three and a half hours.

The patient will feel an element of discomfort due to the nerves near to the uterus, but fully in control, the patient is able to tell the team and they alter the direction of the ultrasound beam.

Once the procedure was complete, Alison was observed in the hospital for a few hours before being allowed to go home. After a couple of days rest, she was able to return to normal activities.

Alison said:“I knew I needed to address the pain and heavy bleeding, so to be able to undergo a procedure to rectify the issue and enable me to get back to normal activities with minimal disruption was fantastic.

"The team at Spire Parkway were great in ensuring I was prepared for the procedure and comfortable throughout. They also stayed in touch with me in the days following the procedure. I’ve now been for my six month check up and all is well. It has been a great result for me.”

Dr Paul Crowe concluded: “As with any procedure, we have to look at the suitability and outcome possibilities for each individual patient. But, if a patient is suitable for MRgFUS, it provides an effective alternative to procedures such as hysterectomy where the recovery time and the loss of fertility, can have a significant impact upon a woman’s life.”

For more information visit our MRgFUS page

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