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What is uterine ablation?

Uterine Ablation

Uterine ablation is the surgical removal of the endometrium or the lining of the uterus. The uterus is a pear-shaped organ located in the lower abdominal (pelvic) area where a baby grows during pregnancy. When pregnancy does not occur, the endometrium is shed each month through menstrual bleeding. Uterine ablation is a treatment for menorrhagia (abnormally heavy menstrual bleeding).

Uterine ablation is a common but major surgery with significant risks and potential complications. You may have less invasive treatment options. Consider getting a second opinion about all your treatment choices before having uterine ablation.

Types of uterine ablation

The types of uterine ablation procedures include:

  • Balloon thermal ablation involves inserting a balloon into your uterus and filling it with heated liquid. The heat destroys your endometrium after approximately 10 minutes. 
  • Cryoablation or freezing involves inserting a small probe into your uterus. The tip of the probe cools to extremely low temperatures. It freezes your endometrium to destroy it. 
  • Electrosurgery involves inserting a special tool into your uterus that carries an electrical current. The electrical current destroys your endometrium. The tool can have a rollerball, wire loop, spiked ball, or triangular mesh tip. You will have this procedure done with general anesthesia in a hospital.
  • Hydrothermal ablation involves instilling and circulating heated fluid, usually saline, inside your uterus. The heat destroys your endometrium after approximately 10 minutes.
  • Laser involves inserting a laser probe into your uterus. The laser light energy destroys your endometrium.
  • Microwave involves inserting a probe into your uterus that uses microwave energy to destroy your endometrium.
  • Radiofrequency involves inserting a probe into your uterus that uses radio wave energy to destroy your endometrium.
Medical Reviewers: Daphne E. Hemmings, MD, MPH Last Review Date: Jul 14, 2013

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Medical References

Clinical Policy Bulletin: Endometrial Ablation. Aetna. http://www.aetna.com/cpb/medical/data/1_99/0091.html. Accessed June 17, 2013.
Endometrial Ablation. American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq134.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20130617T1333038415. Accessed June 17, 2013.
Endometrial Ablation. American Society for Reproductive Medicine. http://www.asrm.org/uploadedFiles/ASRM_Content/Resources/Patient_Resources/Fact_Sheets_and_Info_Booklets/endoablation.pdf. Accessed June 17, 2013.
Pile, JC. Evaluating postoperative fever: A focused approach. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine. 2006;73 (Suppl 1):S62. http://ccjm.org/content/73/Suppl_1/S62.full.pdf. Accessed June 17, 2013.
The Practice Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Indications and options for endometrial ablation.FertilSteril.̀ 2008;90:S236–40. http://www.asrm.org/uploadedFiles/ASRM_Content/News_and_Publications/Practice_Guidelines/Educational_Bulletins/Indications_and_options(1).pdf. Accessed June 17, 2013.

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