Uterine fibroids, also known as leiomyomas, are benign tumors that grow in the muscle tissue of the uterus. These tumors are common, affecting up to 70% of women by the age of 50. While they are usually not cancerous, fibroids can cause a range of symptoms that can impact a woman’s quality of life. Here we will discuss the diagnosis and treatment of uterine fibroids.
The diagnosis of uterine fibroids typically involves a physical examination, including a pelvic exam, and imaging tests. The doctor may feel an enlarged or irregularly shaped uterus during the pelvic exam, which can be a sign of fibroids. The following tests can also help diagnose uterine fibroids:
Ultrasound is a common imaging test used to diagnose uterine fibroids. This test uses sound waves to create images of the uterus and can help the doctor determine the size and location of any fibroids.
MRI is a more detailed imaging test that can provide more information about the size, location, and number of fibroids. MRI is usually reserved for more complex cases.
This test involves inserting a thin, lighted tube through the cervix and into the uterus. This allows the doctor to see inside the uterus and identify any fibroids.
The treatment of uterine fibroids depends on several factors, including the size and location of the fibroids, the severity of symptoms, and the woman’s age and desire for future fertility. Treatment options for uterine fibroids include:
In some cases, especially if the fibroids are small and not causing any symptoms, the doctor may recommend monitoring the fibroids over time to see if they grow or cause any problems.
Several medications can help manage the symptoms of uterine fibroids, including pain and heavy bleeding. These include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), hormonal birth control, and gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists. These medications can help shrink fibroids, but they are not a permanent solution.
Myomectomy is a surgical procedure to remove fibroids while leaving the uterus intact. This is an option for women who wish to preserve their fertility. Myomectomy can be done through several approaches, including open surgery, laparoscopy, and hysteroscopy.
Uterine artery embolization:
Uterine artery embolization (UAE) is a minimally invasive procedure that involves blocking the blood supply to the fibroids, causing them to shrink. This procedure is an option for women who do not wish to undergo surgery and who do not want to become pregnant in the future
Hysterectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the uterus. This is usually reserved for women who have severe symptoms or who do not wish to have children in the future. Hysterectomy can be done through several approaches, including open surgery, laparoscopy, and robotic surgery.
Uterine fibroids are a common condition that can cause a range of symptoms. The diagnosis of uterine fibroids typically involves a physical examination and imaging tests. Treatment options for uterine fibroids depend on several factors, including the size and location of the fibroids, the severity of symptoms, and the woman’s age and desire for future fertility. Watchful waiting, medications, myomectomy, uterine artery embolization, and hysterectomy are all options for treating uterine fibroids.