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Shrinking Fibroids With Ultrasound

Doctors are using ultrasound instead of surgery to treat uterine fibroids, non-cancerous tumors that can develop in a woman's uterus and cause pain, discomfort and bleeding if they grow too large.

The Early Show medical correspondent Dr. Emily Senay explains that the conventional therapy for fibroid tumors traditionally involved surgical removal, but now an experimental treatment using ultrasound technology is zapping the tumors and eliminating the need for surgery.

Senay spoke with Olivia Or Strygler, who was having a procedure to remove a fibroid that developed in the ten years since she had an operation to remove other fibroids.

"When they get to be (as large as this new one), they are very uncomfortable," Or Strygler says.

But this time, Senay observes, Or Strygler doesn't have to go under the knife. Instead, Dr. Robert Min and his team of radiologists at NewYork Presbyterian-Weill Cornell Medical Center use the latest non-invasive technology to tackle the problem.

First, her tumor is mapped out with the help of magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI.

Min shows Senay the fibroid found by the MRI.

Next, cutting edge ultrasound technology is used to focus a beam of high-intensity sound waves through the body to target many different parts of the tumor. The energy created by the focused ultrasound heats and destroys the fibroid tissue.