Fibroids are growths enclosed in capsules in the wall of your womb. They don't spread to other parts of your body, except in very rare circumstances.
Fibroids are very common – around one in two women will be affected at some point in their lives. However, most don't ever get any symptoms. You may have only one fibroid or you may have many fibroids of different sizes. Fibroids can range from being very small to around the size of a basketball.
Fibroids are named according to where they are found in your womb.
Intramural fibroids grow within the muscular wall of your womb.
Subserous fibroids grow from the outside wall of your womb into your pelvic cavity. They can become very large.
Submucosal fibroids grow from the inner wall of your womb into the space inside your womb.
Pedunculated fibroids grow from the outside of your womb. These fibroids are almost free of the wall of your womb and are only attached by a narrow stalk.
Fibroid growth is very slow and can be stimulated by hormones – especially oestrogen. Fibroids tend to become smaller and reduce in number when your oestrogen levels fall, such as after the menopause.
Fibroids don't usually cause symptoms. However, you may get one or more of the symptoms listed below, often depending on where the fibroid is within your womb. You may:
have heavy periods, sometimes leading to anaemia
feel pain in your tummy (abdomen)
have swelling in your pelvic area
pass urine more often than normal, or feel an urgent need to pass urine – this happens if a fibroid is pressing on your bladder
have constipation – this happens if a fibroid is pressing on your bowel
Most women with fibroids have no symptoms, so they often go undetected. Sometimes they are found during a routine gynaecological (vaginal) examination. If you have symptoms, such as pain or heavy periods, your doctor may do the following tests.
An internal examination to check the size of your womb. This is because having an enlarged womb indicates that you may have fibroids.
An MRI scan. This uses magnets and radiowaves to produce images of the inside of your womb.
Hysteroscopy. This is a test that involves your doctor putting a small camera into your vagina to look inside your womb.
Blood tests to check for anaemia.
An ultrasound scan. This uses sound waves to produce an image of part of your womb and can confirm if you have fibroids.
It is a minimally invasive procedure, which means it requires only a tiny nick in the skin. It is performed while the patient is conscious but sedated - drowsy and feeling no pain. Fibroid embolization is performed by an interventional radiologist, a physician who is specially trained to perform this and other minimally invasive procedures. The interventional radiologist makes a small nick in the skin (less then ¼ of an inch) in the groin and inserts a catheter into an artery. The catheter is guided through the artery to the uterus while the interventional radiologist guide the progress of the procedure using a moving X-ray (fluoroscopy). The interventional radiologist injects tiny plastic particles the size of grains of sand into the artery that is supplying blood to the fibroid tumor.
This cuts off the blood flow and causes the tumor (or tumors) to shrink. The artery on the other side of the uterus is then treated. Embolization preparation: A tiny angiographic catheter is inserted through a nick in the skin in to an artery and advanced into uterus.
On average, 85-90 percent of women who have had the procedure experience significant or total relief of heavy bleeding, pain and/or bulk-related symptoms.
Requires only a tiny nick in the skin (No surgical incision of abdomen).
Recovery is shorter than from hysterectomy or open myomectomy.
All fibroids are treated at once, which is not the case with myomectomy. There has been no observed recurrent growth of treated fibroids in the past 9 years.
Uterine fibroid embolization involves virtually no blood loss or risk of blood transfusion.
Many women resume light activities in a few days and the majority of women are able to return to normal activities (including exercise) within a week. If the presenting complaint was excess vaginal bleeding, 87-90% of cases experience resolution within 24hours.
Note: Treatment Options/Results may vary from patient to patient depending on their medical condition.