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Endometrial Ablation

Smiling nurse supporting her patient
Endometrial ablation is a general term for any technique that removes or destroys the endometrium (lining of the uterine cavity). There are many different techniques for performing endometrial ablation. The gynecologic surgeons at Minimally Invasive Gynecology Surgery program employ a variety of endometrial ablation techniques, depending on each individual patient's specific needs. All of these procedures are performed while the patient is anesthetized to ensure that she remains comfortable throughout.

Endometrial ablation procedures

Some procedures use heat to dissolve the endometrium under direct visualization with a hysteroscope. Other uterine lesions, such as polyps and fibroids can be removed during the same procedure using this technique.

Why endometrial ablations are performed

Endometrial ablation, or destruction of the lining of the uterus, is a treatment for heavy menstrual bleeding. It is an alternative to hysterectomy for the treatment of bleeding in women who wish to keep their uterus or avoid major surgery.

Candidates for endometrial ablation

  • Women who are pre-menopausal
  • Women experiencing heavy bleeding caused by a benign (non-cancerous) condition
  • Women who have finished having children and are not interested in future fertility
  • Women who wish to retain their uteruses for personal reasons

What to expect during an endometrial ablation

An endometrial ablation is an outpatient procedure with a short recovery. It can either be performed in the physician’s office, or as an outpatient procedure in an operating room. A woman may experience some cramping after the procedure; ibuprofen is usually adequate to treat pain. It is common to have a vaginal discharge for two to four weeks after the procedure. Most women are typically back to their normal activities in one or two days.

Recovery Process

The recovery process will vary depending upon the type of ablation performed and the type of anesthesia that was administered. If anesthesia was received in the operating room, the patient will be taken to the recovery room for observation. Once blood pressure, pulse and breathing are stable and the patient is alert, she is discharged home. If an ablation was performed in the office, the patient can go home about 30 minutes after the procedure is complete.

Success rates for treating heavy bleeding

  • About 40% of women will have no periods (amenorrhea) after an endometrial ablation.
  • About 85-90% of women have either no periods or decreased bleeding. Generally, they do not need further treatment.
  • About 10-15% of women will require additional treatment, such as a hysterectomy.