A safe new treatment for fibroids (benign uterine tumours) that drastically reduces the need for hysterectomies could be good news for many Canadian women. This less invasive procedure, called uterine fibroid embolization (UFE), is currently being studied in an Ontario multi-centre clinical trial, with headquarters at U of T. Patients require only a brief overnight hospital stay and can usually return to work in 10 days, says Professor Gaylene Pron, lead researcher and epidemiologist in the departments of public health sciences and medical imaging. Through a small incision in the groin, a catheter is guided to the uterine arteries. Small plastic particles are then injected into the vessels, blocking the blood supply to the fibroids and causing them to shrink. General anesthesia and blood transfusions are not necessary. Significant reductions in fibroids have been recorded, and the treatment is also proving to effectively control menstrual bleeding. The rate of serious complications after the procedure is only 1.7 per cent, much lower than after a hysterectomy. “UFE is a safe procedure that should be available to a lot more women,” says Pron. Approximately 60,000 hysterectomies are performed annually in Canada.