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WCW: When fibroids return, and Penguins join the fight!

Posted on March 31, 2021
purple penguin

You can treat non-cancerous uterine tumors, but often, these fibroids return. And that's a big problem for many women, because fibroids are very common. In fact, about 80% of all women  develop one or more fibroids by the age of 50. While that statistic may seem surprising, here's something you may find even more unexpected .Fibroids are a problem in the animal kingdom, too! And that's why, this week, we've named Bette the African penguin as our Woman Crush of the Week!

When Fibroids Return for Animals

This week, we're honoring Bette, an 18-inch African penguin living at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh, PA. A few years back, she had to have surgery to remove a mass from her abdomen. At that time, doctors also removed several fibroid tumors from her uterus.

While any kind of uterine surgery can be complicated, the process is particularly trying on a penguin. The compact bird's body is protected by thick feathers (her surgeons used a mustache clipper to get through and make an incision) and three separate layers of skin and blubber, each of which required its own stitches.

Thankfully, Bette recovered well from her surgery. Just days after the procedure, she was hopping around her recovery enclosure, ready to play with toys. Her full recovery took about 10 days, at which point Bette returned to her long time penguin mate, Sidney, and their babies, Sunshine and D.J.

Treating Fibroids in Houston

Unfortunately, human patients don't bounce back from surgery as quickly as penguins. In fact, according to recent studies, women who treat their fibroids via hysterectomy will face long term health consequences, including an increased risk of obesity and heart disease!

But that's not all. Even if you choose myomectomy, a surgery that, like Bette's, removes individual tumors, the fibroids return after treatment quite frequently. Plus, you still have to face general anesthesia, as well as a hospital stay and an extended recovery. And, during that time, you will likely miss work and other regular activities.

So, that's the bad news. But here's the good news. Unlike penguins, humans with fibroids have access to non-surgical fibroid treatment options. Minimally invasive fibroid treatments like embolization make for quicker recovery times with less complications down the road. And, while some women's fibroids return after UFE, the revision rates are the same or slightly better than with myomectomy. In other words, whether you have surgery or UFE, your risk of fibroid return is the same. Making the non-surgical option very attractive, as long as you're a good candidate for UFE.

So, if you're dealing with a fibroid diagnosis and want to explore minimally invasive treatment plans, reach out to Dr. Fox and Dr. Hardee, your Houston area fibroid specialists! We're here to help you avoid surgery when possible. In that way, even if your fibroids return, you won't be faced with a second surgery and increased risk for complications.

Sources: European Radiology Journal

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