What is an Endometrial Ablation?
An endometrial ablation is a procedure that uses a lighted viewing instrument (hysteroscope) and other instruments to destroy the uterine lining or endometrium. The endometrium heals by scarring, which usually reduces or prevents uterine bleeding.
When is it used?
The procedure may be done when you have bleeding from the uterus that is very heavy or has lasted for a long time. You may have too much growth in the lining of your uterus, or your ovaries may not be working well. There are other options available as well, and you should discuss these options with your provider prior to electing to have the procedure.
What are the benefits of this procedure?
Bleeding from the uterus should stop or decrease because the lining of the uterus has been destroyed. This procedure can help you avoid the discomfort, hospitalization, expense, and longer recovery of a hysterectomy.
What are the risks associated with this procedure?
A local or regional anesthetic may not numb the area quite enough and you may feel some minor discomfort. Also, in rare cases, you may have an allergic reaction to local or regional anesthesia. It is considered safer than general anesthesia. There are some risks when you have general anesthesia. Discuss these risks with your provider.
An endometrial ablation is a very safe procedure and rarely has complications. Possible complications may include:
- Damage to a vein or artery that could cause serious bleeding.
- Make a hole in your uterus (perforation) that could cause dangerous bleeding, and need for further operations including a laparotomy and hysterectomy.
- You may have difficulty emptying your bladder.
- Rarely bowel or bladder may be injured.
- You may have an allergic reaction to the fluid used during the procedure.
- You may develop an infection in your uterus and/or pelvis.
- Your menstrual bleeding may not improve or you may develop pain like severe menstrual cramps.
- Burns (thermal injury) to the uterus or the surface of the bowel.
- Buildup of fluid in the lungs.
- Sudden blockage of arterial blood flow within the lung.
- Tearing of the opening of the uterus.
How do I prepare for an Endometrial Ablation?
Before you have the procedure, you may take the hormone progesterone for a while to shrink the lining of the uterus.
Follow your health care provider’s instructions about not smoking before and after the procedure. Smokers heal more slowly after surgery. They are also more likely to have breathing problems during surgery. For this reason, if you are a smoker, you should quit at least 2 weeks before the procedure. It is best to quit 6 to 8 weeks before surgery. Also, your wounds will heal much better if you do not smoke after surgery.
Follow any other instructions your provider gives you. If you are to have general anesthesia, eat a light meal, such as soup or salad, the night before and do not eat or drink after midnight. Do not even drink coffee, tea, or water.
What happens after the procedure?
You may stay in the hospital several hours or overnight if necessary. After the procedure you may:
- Feel sleepy or groggy from the anesthetic
- Have some cramps
- Have trouble urinating the first few hours after the procedure
- Have a watery or bloody discharge for 3 or 4 weeks
Plan for your care and recovery after the operation. Allow for time to rest. Try to find other people to help you with your day-to-day duties.
After this procedure you cannot give birth to children. If you have concerns about this, discuss them with your health care provider. Ask your provider how to care for yourself after the procedure and when you should come back for a checkup.
When should I call Greenville OB/GYN?
Call our emergency number at any time if:
- You start to bleed a lot (like menstrual period).
- You develop a fever over 100 F (37.8 C).
- You have a lot of pain in your lower abdomen.
- You have a vaginal discharge with a bad odor.
Call during regular office hours if:
- You have questions about the procedure or its results.
- You want to make another appointment.