What are Uterine Fibroids?
Uterine Fibroids are benign growths arising from the muscular wall of the uterus.
- Fibroids are the most common cause of heavy menstrual bleeding. They also cause menstrual pain, bloating and frequent urination.
- Fibroids are extremely common. In most patients there is more than one fibroid present and a woman can have as many as fifty.
- Fibroids vary greatly in size and can remain for years with little change.
- Cancer in a fibroid is very uncommon (approximately 1:750 to 1,000).
Types of Fibroids
- Serosal Fibroids:
Serosal fibroids develop in the outer portion of the uterus and expand, giving the uterus a "knobby" appearance.
- Intramural Fibroids:
Intramural fibroids develop within the wall of the uterus and expand, making the uterus feel larger than normal during a pelvic exam.
- Submucous Fibroids:
Submucous fibroids develop deep in the uterus and deform the cavity of the uterus.
How are Uterine Fibroids diagnosed?
Women typically undergo an ultrasound at their gynecologist's office as part of the evaluation process to determine the presence of uterine fibroids. Radiologists use MRIs to determine if a tumor can be embolized, detect alternate cause for the symptoms, and identify conditions that could prevent women form having uterine fibroid embolization. By working with a patient, radiologists can use MRIs to enhance the level of patient care through better diagnosis, better education and providing better treatment options, which may lead to better outcomes.
Treatment of Uterine Fibroids
Before any surgery patients should be aware of all their treatment options, which include hormone therapy, endometrial ablation, uterine fibroid embolization (UFE), myomectomy and hysterectomy.
At Griffin Hospital, our physicians perform UFE as an outpatient procedure. UFE is a safe, effective, non-surgical treatment for fibroids using a minimally-invasive procedure resulting in a small puncture in the skin. UFE works by blocking the blood supply to the fibroid, causing it to shrink and become inactive.
Prior to the procedure, intravenous antibiotics and a sedative are given to the patient; a local anesthetic is administered to numb the groin area. During the procedure, which is viewed by an X-Ray technique called fluoroscopy, the interventional radiologist inserts a needle into the femoral artery, providing access for a catheter to be guided to the uterine artery. The interventional radiologist then injects a dye into the artery to view the blood supply to the fibroids. This technique, called an arteriogram, provides a "map" of the blood supply. Once the arteriogram is complete, small particles the sizes of grains of sand are slowly injected into the artery. The particles flow towards the fibroids and wedge in the vessels that supply them with blood. The procedure takes approximately one hour and is performed as an outpatient procedure.
Information provided by Jefferson Radiology