Public goes ape over fibroid patient

December 1, 2007

When Beta, a 46-year-old gorilla from the Brookfield Zoo in Brookfield, IL, underwent uterine artery embolization for fibroids, some people took exception to her exceptional care.

When Beta, a 46-year-old gorilla from the Brookfield Zoo in Brookfield, IL, underwent uterine artery embolization for fibroids, some people took exception to her exceptional care.

A posting on the Wall Street Journal's health blog scoffed at a gorilla getting top-notch medical care while many humans do not. Initially, Dr. Steven Smith, one of the interventional radiologists on Beta's team, defended the action, as everybody was involved voluntarily. But the comment forced him to ponder why a gorilla could get access to better treatment than some women with uterine fibroids.

He admits that UAE is not the right treatment for everyone, but he questions what appears to be strong resistance from gynecologists to considering the benefits of the minimally invasive procedure. Criticism aside, he admits IRs occasionally get referrals from gynecologists.

"Beta the gorilla was a referral from a gynecologist," he said.