The procedure is a minimally invasive alternative to myomectomy, hysterectomy, and other surgical techniques, with minimal scarring and quick recovery. But the pivotal trials excluded women who were planning to become pregnant, and the Food and Drug Administration recommends against its use in women planning a future pregnancy because of the lack of safety and efficacy data in that population.
The procedure, which gained FDA approval in 2016, combines laparoscopic ultrasound with targeted radiofrequency to heat fibroids, which then shrink over the next few months. “There have been a lot of questions from infertility specialists regarding whether Lap-RFA can be applied to their patients because there’s very little scarring and a quick return to work. It’s really a very nice outpatient procedure for dealing with fibroids,” Dr. Berman said in an interview.
There is natural concern, however, because clinicians are uncomfortable exposing women to a pregnancy risk. “I think there’s concern from many gynecologists and reproductive endocrinologists on the pregnancy outcomes following fibroid therapy, whatever that happens to be – traditional open laparoscopic myomectomy, robotic myomectomy, all of those kinds of therapies. We were interested in looking at pregnancy outcomes following [RFA for fibroids] and whether or not C-sections would need to be recommended, similar to what you see following myomectomy, where if you enter the cavity or go through more than half of the myometrium, you recommend a C-section for that patient in subsequent pregnancies,” said Dr. Berman, who is a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Wayne State University, Detroit.
Early case studies, mostly done in Mexico and Guatemala, found the uteri of women to be normal following Lap-RFA, he said.
The results of this study are encouraging, but are far from the final word, as the data are retrospective and small. Acessa, which provided statistical analysis for the current work, is planning a prospective study. “I don’t think there’s enough to say that the labeling should be changed, but we’re moving in that direction. There needs to be a lot more information,” Dr. Berman said at the meeting sponsored by AAGL.