Adventist Health Bakersfield | You + Us | Summer 2019
7 Connie Wedemeyer thought she was just getting old. “Walking upstairs, I would be out of breath,” she says. Her symptoms came on slowly but became very severe. “I looked like I was five months’ pregnant. I had heavy, heavy cycles, and I just thought it was part of the aging process.” Then one day, while riding her horse, everything came to a head. “I was taking a lesson and couldn’t keep my feet in the stirrups. I did a jump, and my trainer said I was just like a rag doll. I fell off.” Connie had become severely anemic and passed out on her horse. The fall gave her a concussion—but also some answers. Her anemia was caused by uterine fibroids. An all too common problem As many as 80% of women will deal with uterine fibroids sometime during their lifetime. These tumors in the uterus are almost never cancerous, but they can cause heavy menstrual bleeding, severe pain and other problems. Russell Paul, MD, an interventional radiologist at Adventist Health Bakersfield, says uterine fibroids are very common—and many probably go unreported. “Most women don’t realize what’s going on because the growth is not that rapid,” he says. When fibroids disrupt daily life, a hysterectomy, which removes the uterus, is the most common treatment. In fact, fibroids are responsible for more hysterectomies Hope for healing — without a hysterectomy than any other health condition. What many women—and even some doctors—don’t know is that there is another, less drastic option. A conservative solution Connie’s first gynecologist told her she needed a hysterectomy. “Having a hysterectomy pushes you into menopause, and then you are on hormone replacement drugs. I’ve done everything I can in my adult life to avoid things like that, so it was pretty devastating,” she says. At her next appointment for follow-up tests at Quest Imaging, she met Levi Dansby, MD, also an interventional radiologist with Adventist Health. He had a different suggestion: uterine fibroid embolization, or UFE. It’s a minimally invasive procedure that lets doctors block the fibroids’ blood supply, causing them to shrink. “The patient gets an incision of less than half an inch in the groin,” Dr. Dansby says. “It is more than 90% effective with fibroids.” Make your voice heard “A lot of gynecologists may not realize that this procedure is available as an alternative, and certainly a lot of women don’t realize,” says Dr. Paul. Connie had to speak up for herself. “When I asked the gynecologist about UFE, he said, ‘Well, you’ll end up with a hysterectomy anyway.’ Again, you want to respect your physician’s advice, but I think it’s important to take control and start doing your own research,” she says. Connie did just that—and decided to go ahead with the UFE procedure. The standard recovery time for a hysterectomy is six weeks. For UFE, it’s a week to a week and a half. Connie went home from the hospital the same day—and years later, she remains symptom-free. “Definitely be your own advocate,” she says. Uterine fibroid embolization is performed by an interventional radiologist who is spe- cially trained in minimally invasive techniques. It’s typically done in an outpatient setting. Drs. Paul and Dansby are both board-certified interventional radiologists trained in this procedure. They practice exclu- sively at Quest Imaging and Adventist Health Bakersfield. A closer look Want to talk about UFE? Call our nurse coordinator at 888-802-2138 to learn more or to make an appointment. Ask your doctor whether UFE may be the right choice for you. Excellence is our everyday endeavor.