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      Focus Foundation Winter 2014


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    • A New Approach to Birth Control Started with an R&E Grant  
      With her 1988 R&E Research Fellow Grant, Amy S. Thurmond, M.D., aimed to improve the hysterosalpingographic (HSG) diagnosis of infertility and develop an interventional radiological treatment of infertility. What ultimately resulted from this pioneering and inspiring young investigator was a new procedure for diagnosing and treating fallopian tube blockage—a minimally invasive transcervical tubal access catheter system—which is now performed worldwide.

      Additionally, Dr. Thurmond’s research can be credited with laying the groundwork for the development of the only FDA approved device on the market for transcervical occlusion of the fallopian tubes.

      “The support of the RSNA at that critical time allowed me to develop expertise, write papers, present at meetings, train fellows and work with other radiologists so that now, 25 years later, radiologists who focus on the health issues which plague women are valued subspecialists.”

      In the late 1980s during the RSNA Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting, Dr. Thurmond’s research caught the attention of Julian Nikolchev. As the founder and at that time the sole employee of Conceptus, Inc., Mr. Nikolchev had a specific interest in tubal occlusion as a non-surgical alternative for women considering tubal ligation. Mr. Nikolchev’s interest and Dr. Thurmond’s research was the beginning of their collaboration.

      Dr. Thurmond and her team embarked on extensive research using large-sized rabbits as animal models. When the rabbit testing proved a success, Dr. Thurmond shared her data with the FDA and the device was approved for clinical trials. The device that eventually gained FDA approval, Essure, offers effective and permanent birth control without surgery or hormones. Essure uses a micro-coil designed to be deployed permanently into each fallopian tube using the minimally invasive transcervical tubal access catheter system developed by Dr. Thurmond during her RSNA-sponsored fellowship.
       
      Dr. Thurmond is grateful for the early support she received from the Foundation. “At that time there was no subspecialty in Radiology for OB/ Gyn Imaging, or Women’s Imaging, and obstetrician-gynecologists were not used to working with radiologists as experts or collaborators. The support of the RSNA at that critical time allowed me to develop expertise, write papers, present at meetings, train fellows and work with other radiologists so that now, 25 years later, radiologists who focus on the health issues which plague women are valued subspecialists.”

      Dr. Thurmond is an internationally recognized expert in woman’s imaging and interventional radiology. She has her own practice in Portland, Oregon, Women’s Imaging and Intervention, where she continues to focus on women’s health issues.