Endometrial Ablation is a procedure which ablates the lining of the uterus, also known as the endometrium. The basic aim of this procedure is to treat abnormal or excessive uterine bleeding. Generally, doctors will use a viewing instrument to look inside the uterus.
Some common methods for endometrial ablation
- Using a laser beam to ablate the lining
- Thermal ablation by radio frequency
- Freezing and the use of microwaves
Under normal conditions, the procedure can take up to 45 minutes, and a local or spinal anaesthesia is generally used.
Reason for the procedure
The basic reason for conducting this procedure is to stop excessive or prolonged vaginal bleeding. At times, a female might undergo this procedure if she is not interested in bearing a child. Hysterectomy is also an effective method for stopping the bleeding, but there can be medical complications preventing a hysterectomy.
There are some common side effects which include nausea and cramping. The patient will experience vaginal discharge which might be watery and filled with blood.
Even though the discharge can last for 10 to 14 days, it will become significantly clearer after a few days. Complete recovery takes place within 14 days.
Does it work?
- Most women undergoing this procedure will have reduced menstrual flow and statistically, half the women will not experience menstruation after the procedure.
- The procedure needs to be repeated amongst younger women as compared to older women. Younger women will continue to have periods whereas older women will experience no periods.
- In some cases, younger women might be treated with gonadotropin-releasing hormone analogues in order to decrease the production of estrogen. Reduced production of estrogen will help thin the endometrium.
The procedure does not involve a lot of complications, and is practiced in many countries. However, every surgical procedure does entail a few risks. The uterus can be accidentally punctured during the surgery. One of the methods of performing this surgery includes the use of thermal radiations. In some cases this can cause burns. The procedure can also cause build up of fluid in the lungs. On rare occasions, the procedure can also cause sudden blockage of arterial blood flow to the lungs. In some case, endometrial ablation has been known to tear the opening of the uterus.
Is the procedure right for you?
Endometrial Ablation is not suggested if the patient has a high risk of developing endometrial cancer, because regrowth of the endometrium can take place after the procedure. In addition to this, if a woman is planning to bear a child, this procedure should not be performed. Endometrial ablation does not guarantee the patient won’t be pregnant again. In some cases, a part of endometrium is left in place even after the procedure and can serious problems within the body.
It is unnecessary for the surgeon to use anaesthesia before the surgery. In some cases, the procedure can be performed by a gynaecologist in a clinic, and is generally a fast procedure. Anaesthesia might be necessary to make sure the procedure is completed effectively. Usually, endometrial ablation is recommended for women who suffer from excessive menstrual bleeding, or do not want to become pregnant. The long term results of this procedure are not predictable, which in turn can lead to recurrence of heavy periods after a year or two.