Fibroid Ablation

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Uterine Fibroids the Diagnosis and Treatment

Uterine fibroids are benign tumors found in the womb or uterus. They are composed of dense fibrous tissue and can cause a variety of symptoms including excessive menstrual bleeding, pain, abdominal swelling and infertility. Fortunately, there is a wide range of effective treatments for fibroids.

The medical term for uterine fibroids is leiomyoma. A rare cancer of the uterus is called a leiomyosarcoma, but having fibroids does not lead to this tumor or increase the risk of it. However, fibroids can have serious impact on a woman’s health.

No one knows for sure what causes fibroids but there are risk factors that make them more common, obesity being one of them. They are also more common in women in their 30’s and 40’s although they often shrink after menopause. African American women are more likely to have fibroids and so are women with a family history of the condition. While the causes of fibroids are not known, the risk can be decreased by avoiding obesity and the consumption of a healthy diet rich in vegetables.

From 20% to 80% of women will develop fibroids in a lifetime. It is known that diet can have an influence on the development of fibroids with the consumption of lots of vegetables and fruits being protective while large quantities of red meat seem to encourage fibroid growth.

Some fibroids cause no symptoms at all, even when sizeable. Common symptoms of fibroids are heavy menstrual periods, heaviness in the lower abdomen and pelvis, urinary symptoms and painful sexual intercourse. Fibroids can complicate pregnancy and greatly increase the chances of requiring a cesarean delivery.

Fibroids are classified by where in the uterine wall they occur. Submucosal fibroids grow into the uterine cavity while intramural fibroids are contained inside the muscle wall and subserosal fibroids grow on the outside of the womb. Pedunculated fibroids grow on a thin stalk and look something like a mushroom.

There are many different means of treating fibroids when they require treatment at all. Asymptomatic fibroids only require watching for problems and are common. When symptoms cause a great deal of pain or anemia from heavy bleeding, there are surgical and nonsurgical options. Size and location of the fibroids may dictate the types of therapy available.

For women who do not wish to preserve childbearing, hysterectomy or removal of the uterus is a direct solution. It is also often possible to remove just the troublesome fibroids by a procedure called myomectomy. Conception may be possible after that option. Another option is uterine lining ablation which is done with a variety of techniques. After ablation, conception is not possible.

Medical control of fibroids may be as simple as the use of NSAIDs or acetaminophen for discomfort or may use hormones and anti-hormonal drugs to control symptoms. Low dose birth control pills may work for some women while others require hormone suppressing drugs such as Lupron or mifespristone. The problem with these drugs is that the fibroids may grow again when the medication stops.

Women with fibroids may not even know they are present or may have significant symptoms, but modern treatments make this diagnosis one that should not be terrifying. Diagnosis can usually be made by imaging with X-ray, ultrasound or MRI but occasionally is done by inserting a special scope into the uterus through the vagina (hysteroscopy) or through the abdominal wall (laparoscopy.) Biopsies can be taken to confirm the diagnosis in this way.

About the author: If you need an excellent photo of a Uterine Fibroid is a great resource to start with. This web site also displays a photo of several Uterine Fibroids that you are welcome to use with the proper credits given to Dr. Robert Rainer.


Frequently Asked Questions

    I have a large fibroid in my uterus and do not want to get a hysterectomy, anyone had one removed?
    I have been having VERY heavy cycles for the past year and I am interested in finding out if anyone else who has a fibroid has chosen to have it removed through laproscopic surgery. I am also going to have an ablation done at the same time. Any feedback is appreciated.

    • ANSWER:
      I have uterine fibroids as well. Almost a year ago I had a laproscopic surgery to remove some endometriosis I had and althought it ended up painful for me (because my stitches wwent in and got an infection in my incision) it was not too bad besides that. The doctor did not remove my fibroids because he wanted to know for sure which one was causing my specific sort of pain. (Which it is much better by the way) And he said that if he were to remove the fibroids, he would do a laparotomy (A little bit bigger surgery than the laproscopic so it would require a little more down time.) Well, I don’t know if this was of any help, but I know I was happy of my decision to go through with my surgery.

    I just found out I have fibroid tumor. Has anyone had any experiences with treatments?
    I was just told I have a fibroid the size an orange. The Doctor has given me some options. First- I would be given hormones for 6 months to shrink the size of the fibroid and then have the fibroid removed. The down side is that the hormones will put me in a medically induced menapause. With all of the symtoms of menapause, including decrease in bone density. And the fibroid could grow right back!!! Next the doctor suggested Ablation. This is where the destroy the lining of my uterus with heat. This would render me infertile and does have some risks. The last resort is hysterectomy but the only one that would be 100% effective. But I would like to keep my uterus.

    I am 35 years old and am not planning on having anymore children. Please if anyone has any stories or suggestions let me know I’m not sure which treatment I should pick.
    I haven’t mentioned that I have had symptoms. I have VERY heavy periods that last about 7-10 days. I am now anemic because of this. Next because of the size of the fibroid it is pressing against my intestines and causing other problems.

    • ANSWER:
      Thirteen years ago, my doctor found a fibroid bigger than a softball. I chose the hysterectomy, but kept my ovaries (no hormone therapy needed). I was 40 years old, and have not regretted it a day since. I wasn’t planning on having any more kids, and I lost the monthly routine (along with all the back pain and cramping). I have started menopause, but it’s mild.

      I didn’t give my doctor any other option. It’s what I wanted.

    What to do hysterectomy or thermal balloon ablation?
    If you have been thru one of these…what is the advantage from one or the other? I am having heavy bleeding and have fibroid tumors.

    • ANSWER:
      Although I had total hysterectomy I am sure I am not the right person to tell you which is a better procedure. You might want to read a bit about both procedures on the net (there are different kinds of hysterectomies too)

      but I think you ought to discuss it frankly with a gynecologist maybe with 2-3 doctors, this will give you much more insgiht than any of us telling you how she felt.
      Thermal Balloon Abaltion

    Can someone who had Endometrial ablation please share her experience?
    My doctor recommended this procedure because I have a uterine fibroid!!
    And..with this procedure I will not need any extra form of birth control method?

    • ANSWER:
      I had an ablation about 7 years ago due to extremely heavy periods. The procedure was simple and short. I was in recovery for about 30 minutes and was up and moving that evening. The procedure worked; no more heavy periods. I realize you are contemplating the surgery for a different reason, but I definitely recommend it.

    Has anyone ever had the thermal ablation for treating fibroids?
    I had a myo done 2 yrs. ago almost. and there baaaaaaack
    So, instead of going thru another major operation again in less than 2 yrs. ago, am considering that fairly new treatment where you lay down, and the docs do this guided ultra sound “heating” ea. individual fibroid tumor
    have you had this done or know of anyone who has?
    no, i do NOT want my uterus ripped out. I don’t have any children, but as far as all the articles I’ve read, hysterectomy isn’t all that healthy for women. and plus yes, if my life were in danger then I’d opt for it.

    • ANSWER:
      I’m sure that SOMEONE has…

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