Everything you need to know about Uterine Fibroids – Part 1

What are uterine fibroids?

Fibroids are very common benign non- cancerous growths from the muscle tissue of the uterus, also called leiomyomas.

What are the symptoms of due to uterine fibroids?

Symptoms vary by the size and location of the fibroid. Patients with uterine fibroids can present with abnormal menstrual bleeding, pelvic pain, increased frequency of urination, infertility , miscarriage, enlarging abdomen and pain during intercourse.

Uterine Fibroids

How are fibroids diagnosed?

Fibroids are diagnosed using clinical examination, ultrasound and MRI.

What are the treatment options for fibroids?

  • Medical: After you are diagnosed with fibroids a trail of medical therapy is usually given . NSAIDS, oral contraceptives , progesterone analogs or gonadotropin agonists are some of the drugs which are used in the medical management of fibroids. Most medical management is ineffective in getting rid of the fibroids permanently
  • Surgical : Symptomatic fibroids were traditionally treated with invasive surgical procedures like hysterectomy (Removal of uterus) and myomectomy
  • UFE: Uterine fibroid embolization is an advanced minimally invasive , non surgical way of treating fibroids. UFE is a level A, ACOG recommended procedure for treating fibroids. UFE is a safe, effective and durable non surgical alternative to hysterectomy- AJOG. It is also US-FDA approved procedure for fibroids

What is uterine artery?

A pair of blood vessels called uterine arteries supply the uterus. Fibroids are non-cancerous growths of the uterus, which receive their blood supply from the uterine arteries.

What is embolization?

Embolization is a technique where a catheter is passed through the artery supplying a region and small particles are injected which block blood flow.

What are the advantages of uterine fibroid embolization over surgery?

  • No surgical incision is needed—only a small nick in the skin that does not have to be stitched closed.
  • Patients can ordinarily resume their usual activities weeks earlier than with a traditional hysterectomy.
  • Blood loss during uterine fibroid embolization is minimal, the recovery time is much shorter than for hysterectomy, and general anesthesia is not required.
  • 90% of women who have a uterine fibroid embolization experience either significant or complete resolution of their fibroid-related symptoms.
  • Studies over several years show it is rare for treated fibroids to return or for new fibroids to develop.

What are the side effects of hysterectomy?

Potential side effects of surgery include infection, hemorrhage and injury to adjacent organs. You need to stay in the hospital for 2 or 3 days post surgery. With hysterectomy you enter a premature menopause with symptoms like hot flashes, mood changes, fatigue which require an additional hormone replacement therapy to help body regain its normal hormonal balance. Recovery time after hysterectomy is long, you wont be able to return to normal activity for about 6 weeks.

Who performs uterine fibroid embolization?

Uterine fibroid embolization is done by interventional radiologists, who are specially trained physicians in performing minimally invasive procedures under imaging guidance.

How is UFE performed?

Fibroids receive blood supply from uterine arteries. In UFE, interventional radiologist accesses the uterine arteries under real time image guidance through a small nick in the groin or arm using special devices called catheters. Once in uterine arteries small round particles are injected into them causing blockage of the blood supply to the fibroids. No large incisions, which require suturing, are needed.