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Insight on the NovaSure Procedure: A Type of Uterine Ablation

written by: Sarah Mitchell • edited by: BStone • updated: 5/3/2011

Many women experience long-lasting and heavy menstrual bleeding, medically known as menorrhagia. While there is no cure for this condition, a uterine ablation, or endometrial ablation, can help alleviate such symptoms. There are various procedures, so what is the safest form of uterine ablation?

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    What is the NovaSure Procedure?

    Prolonged and heavy menstrual bleeding can be debilitating for those suffering from menorrhagia. Endometrial ablation is an option for those who do not wish to turn to hormones or undergo a hysterectomy and do not plan on having children now or in the future. While there are several methods, the NovaSure procedure is one of the safest forms of uterine ablation. This method solely involves removing the endometrium, the lining of the uterus.

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    Why Is the NovaSure Procedure Safer Than Other Methods?

    Controversy exists with regard to labeling the safest form of this procedure; however, several physicians have claimed that the NovaSure procedure is a simple and safe, minimally evasive procedure when compared to other endometrial ablation methods.[2]

    An evaluation of the data the FDA compiled on various global endometrial ablation methods, including NovaSure, Her Option, HydroThermablator, and Thermachoice, was conducted; according to the Summary of Safety and Effectiveness Data from FDA by J. Cooper and RJ Gimpelson, last updated April 2004 and reported on PubMed.gov:

    “At 12 months’ followup, NovaSure and HydroThermablator had the highest amenorrhea rates. Thermachoice and NovaSure had the highest success rates at 12 months. NovaSure had the lowest adverse event rates in the first 24 hours, between 24 hours and 2 weeks and between 2 weeks and 1 year of follow-up.”[3]

    There is no need for any incisions. The procedure can be performed within the health care provider’s office in less than five minutes since general anesthetic is not required. Women are not required to take a pretreatment drug to thin the endometrium upwards of two months prior to the ablation. Many women trust NovaSure; in fact, according to the NovaSure website, over one million women have successfully undergone the NovaSure procedure.[4]

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    Endometrial Ablation Procedure Overview

    NovaSure endometrial ablation is a quick outpatient procedure, destroying the endometrium through the use of radio frequency energy. Post-NovaSure patients have experienced menstrual bleeding reduction or elimination.

    The following is a brief overview of the procedure:

    1. The cervix is dilated to allow a handheld wand with a retracted triangular mesh array;
    2. The mesh is extended, covering all sides of the uterine walls;
    3. A controlled dose of RF energy is then disbursed for 90 seconds; and
    4. The mesh is then retracted and the wand is removed.[1]
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    Recovery Time

    Women have found their recovery time to be relatively quick, so much so that many have returned to work the following day. NovaSure is fast and effective in both procedure and recovery time.

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    NovaSure Side Effects, Risks and Warnings

    Side Effects

    Possible side effects include postoperative vaginal bleeding, discharge and/or spotting, nausea or vomiting, and cramping or pelvic pain.

    Risks and Warnings

    Endometrial ablation should not be performed in women with the following conditions:

    • Post-menopause
    • Endometrium or uterine disorders
    • Endometrial hyperplasia
    • Uterine cancer
    • Pregnant or recently pregnant
    • Uterine infection

    Since the uterus remains intact, the chance for pregnancy exists; thus, presenting great risk to both the mother and fetus. Therefore, women should use birth control or undergo sterilization after endometrial ablation for pregnancy prevention.

    As with other endometrial ablation methods, life-threatening complications or death can result from NovaSure. These include the following:

    • Uterine wall perforation;
    • Gas or air embolism;
    • Pregnancy complications;
    • Infection;
    • Sepsis; and/or
    • Tubal sterilization syndrome.[5]

    Disclaimer: The above information is solely for educational purposes only and should not replace sound medical advice. The author does not endorse any one method.

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    References

    NovaSure website. What to Expect from the NovaSure Procedure. (accessed January 4, 2011).[1]

    NovaSure website. Physicians confirm that the NovaSure procedure is quick, simple, safe, and successful. (accessed January 7, 2011).[2]

    PubMed.gov website (U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health). Summary of safety and effectiveness data from FDA: a valuable source of information on the performance of global endometrial ablation devices. (accessed January 7, 2011).[3]

    NovaSure website. One Million Patients Treated. (accessed January 4, 2011).[4]

    NovaSure website. Is NovaSure Right for Me?. (accessed January 4, 2011).[5]

    Patient Resources

    NovaSure. Stop Your Heavy Period and Restart Your Life.

    American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Patient Fact Sheet: Endometrial Ablation.

    The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Endometrial Ablation pamphlet (March 2009).