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Endometrial Ablation

What is Endometrial Ablation?

  • Endometrial ablation is the process of destroying the tissue layer lining the internal cavity of the uterus (i.e. endometrium).
  • Several different forms of energy can be used for ablation. These include electricity, heat, cold, and microwaves.
  • Endometrial ablation is performed (usually by an experienced OB/GYN physician) as a treatment for abnormal or heavy uterine bleeding when medical and/or hormonal treatments have been ineffective or are not medically appropriate.
  • Endometrial ablation is not an appropriate treatment for uterine cancer, because it only destroys the most superficial tissue layer of the uterine wall, and most cancers burrow more deeply into the uterine wall.

Endometrial Ablation Precautions and Preparation

Endometrial ablation is not an appropriate treatment for bleeding in every woman. It cannot be performed when a woman is pregnant or when a woman desires to become pregnant at any time in the future. Endometrial ablation should not be performed when there is infection in the genital tract. Prior to the procedure, the woman must undergo a thorough physical examination including a sampling (biopsy) of the endometrium to confirm that cancer is not present.

Imaging studies and/or visual examination of the uterine cavity using a hysteroscope (a lighted viewing instrument that is inserted to visualize the inside of the uterus) are typically also carried out to exclude the presence of abnormalities, such as uterine polyps or benign (fibroid) tumors beneath the endometrium, that could be responsible for the heavy bleeding. These can often be simply removed without the need for destruction of the entire endometrium.

Because a thinner endometrium is easier to destroy, some women may need to take hormonal medications during the weeks prior to the procedure for optimal results. These medications serve to thin the endometrial lining and increase the likelihood of a successful ablation procedure.

If a woman has an intrauterine contraceptive device (IUD) in place, it must be removed prior to the procedure being performed.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/15/2015

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