U.S. Secretary of State-designate Condoleezza Rice will undergo a minimally invasive procedure for fibroids on Friday in Washington, D.C., according to National Security Council (NSC) spokesman Sean McCormack.
Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) is a relatively new treatment for fibroids, or non-cancerous tumors of the uterus. The procedure, requiring only a nick in the skin, involves the injection of a polymer substance through a catheter into the uterine artery. This cuts off blood flow to the fibroid, slowing growth and causing the fibroid to eventually shrink.
UFE is considered a very safe procedure, although in rare cases, patients may experience infection, prolonged pain, or premature menopause. During the one- to three-hour-long procedure, the patient is conscious but sedated.
Rice is expected to stay overnight in the hospital and return to work on Monday, said McCormack.
She was to have accompanied President Bush to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Santiago, Chile this weekend, according to NSC spokesman Jim Wilkinson. Attending the summit in Rice’s stead is her head deputy, Stephen Hadley, who prepares to succeed Rice as national security advisor.
On Tuesday, President Bush nominated Rice, 50, as Secretary of State to succeed Colin Powell.
Fibroids are benign tumors that grow in or on the muscular wall of the uterus. Uterine fibroids generally occur in women between 35 and 50 years of age, and are estimated to affect one in four women in the United States during her childbearing years. Though rarely dangerous, large or multiple fibroids can cause abdominal or back pain, unusually heavy periods, menstrual pain, and reproductive problems, requiring treatment.