Managing and Combatting Fibroid Growth in the Uterus
Awareness of uterine fibroids – of how common they are and what a range of symptoms they can cause – has expanded among women and medical professionals, as this condition has received more attention in recent years, and as diagnosis and treatment for it have significantly improved. A large portion of women in their 30s, 40s, or older have fibroid growths in their uterus. These growths may occur on the inner or out surface, or within the muscular wall, of the uterus. While many women have no symptoms from these benign masses, many others suffer such effects as heavy, prolonged menstrual bleeding and cramping or pain that can sometimes be debilitating.
The staff at Aria's Center for Gynecology & Women's Health offers the latest approaches to evaluating patients who show signs of fibroids and to treating them. The objective of care for this condition is symptom relief.
Specialists have made great strides in the last decade in treating this common uterine condition, with interventions that provide quicker recovery.
Medical therapy, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or hormonal therapy, for fibroids can be effective for some patients. Other treatments to directly remove or reduce the fibroids themselves have also improved and expanded in use. Recently, specialists have been successful in developing procedures to minimize the invasiveness of such interventions.
Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) (also called uterine artery embolization (UAE)) uses catheters introduced through arteries in the legs and advanced to the arteries that supply blood to the uterus. Specialists can inject substances that form a clot (embolize) at these locations, thereby cutting off circulation to the uterine tissue in which the fibroid is located. After this procedure, fibroids partly or completely shrink or die off, which typically alleviates symptoms. Staff members refer to and collaborate with Aria's interventional radiologists as needed for this and other procedures. Interventionalists in Aria's radiology service are highly experienced in offering this form of minimally invasive care for symptomatic uterine fibroids.
The surgical options provided by the staff are myomectomy (surgical removal of the portion of the uterus containing fibroids) or hysterectomy. Aria's gynecologic surgeons can also offer these procedures in a less-invasive form, performing them via laparoscopy for many patients. In addition, surgeons can use hysteroscopy to remove fibroids that are protruding into the uterine cavity. (Hysteroscopy can also sometimes be used to perform less-involved myomectomies.) All of these procedures are effective in relieving pain and pressure, and urinary symptoms, of uterine masses.
The radiology and other diagnostic services at Aria Health offer the highest quality studies, including the CT and MR studies that can be important to diagnosing and evaluating uterine fibroids. As a patient at the center, a woman knows that results of her screening studies or other tests, including those involving biopsy, are sent directly to her caregiver. The staff can provide diagnostic procedures that may be helpful in identifying fibroids, such as hysteroscopy, endometrial biopsy, and pelvic ultrasound.