A fibroid is a growth made up of fibrous and muscular tissue; it is normal tissue that has grown too much. Fibroids can grow inside, outside, or within the wall the uterus, often in response to estrogen hormone. They are almost always NOT cancerous. While they are not life-threatening, fibroids can cause pain, excessive bleeding, and even infertility. A woman who has one fibroid may develop other fibroids.
A fibroid may also be called a myoma or leiomyoma.
Are fibroids a common problem?
A fibroid is the most common type of pelvic growth found in women. Approximately 25 percent of women in their reproductive years will be diagnosed with fibroids, but as many as 75 percent of women may have them and not know it because they experience few, if any, symptoms.
What causes a fibroid?
Fibroids grow in response to the estrogen hormone and women seldom develop fibroids after reaching menopause. There are no known risk factors, women of all ethnicities can develop fibroids but it appears that African American women are more likely to develop fibroids.
What are the symptoms of fibroids?
Most women who have fibroids do not experience symptoms. Fibroids are sometimes detected during a pelvic examination, when the doctor notes that the uterus is enlarged or irregular in shape. Pressure in the pelvic area, pelvic pain, prolonged and/or heavy menstrual periods, backaches, constipation, frequent urination, and uterine enlargement can all be symptoms of uterine fibroids. These symptoms may have other causes, so our doctor may order tests, such as ultrasound, to rule out other problems.
Non-Surgical Management Options
Uterine Fibroid Embolization: Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE), also known as uterine artery embolization(UAE) is an alternative to surgery that involves placing a catheter through a small incision in the groin into an artery in the leg and guiding the catheter via CT scan pictures to the arteries of the uterus. Once there, the catheter is used to deliver agents that block off the blood vessels that feed the uterine fibroids. Total radiation exposure during this procedure is comparable to that in one to two CT scans. UAE does not remove uterine fibroids but will stop heavy bleeding in almost all cases.
Focused Ultrasound Treatment: MRI-guided focused ultrasound (FUS) is a noninvasive treatment option for uterine fibroids that destroys fibroids while preserving the normal uterus. Focused high-frequency, high-energy sound waves are used to target the proteins in fibroids, until they are destroyed. Used in combination with MRI, FUS allows physicians to precisely target and monitor therapy. A single treatment session lasts approximately 3 hours. Although fibroids are treated and ultimately decrease in size, they are not removed. Women are able to resume normal activity within a day of the procedure, however the long-term effectiveness of this treatment is not known and it is not recommended for women who want to preserve their fertility.
Surgical Management Options
Myomectomy is the surgical removal of fibroids. It is used to treat bleeding, infertility, pain, and pressure caused by fibroids. Our gynecologist uses one of four uterine-sparing surgical procedures to remove the fibroids: hysteroscopy, laparoscopy, laparotomy, or robotic-assisted myomectomy.