About Uterine Fibroids
What are uterine fibroids?
Uterine fibroids, also medically known as leiomyomas or myomas, are noncancerous (benign) tumors that grow inside or on a woman’s uterus. Made up of muscle and connective tissue, uterine fibroids can range in size from microscopic to larger than a grapefruit. Fibroid location, size and quantity impact the types of symptoms a woman experiences.
Fibroids are diagnosed during routine gynecological exams, or via imaging technology such as ultrasound if the patient reports or exhibits appropriate symptoms.
What are the symptoms of uterine fibroids?
Fibroids may cause the following symptoms:
- Heavy menstrual bleeding, sometimes leading to anemia
- A distended abdomen (bloating)
- Pelvic pressure or pain
- Frequent urination
- Painful intercourse
- Painful and or prolonged menstrual periods
Who gets uterine fibroids?
Uterine fibroids are one of the most common gynecological disorders, with nearly 70% of Caucasian women and more than 80% of African American women affected by the age of 50.
The incidence of fibroids increases with age – it has been estimated that approximately 4% of women aged 21–30, 12% of women aged 31–40 and 33% of women aged 41–50 suffer from symptomatic uterine fibroids.
How are fibroids classified?
Fibroids are classified by location:
- Submucosal: Fibroids that grow closest to the inner cavity of the uterus.
- Subserosal: Fibroids that grow toward the outer surface of the uterus.
- Intramural: Fibroids that grow within the muscular wall of the uterus.
What treatment options are available for uterine fibroids?
Treatment is not required for everyone with uterine fibroids; the greatest motivator for fibroid treatment is the presence of one or more symptoms. Uterine fibroids can be managed with pharmaceuticals, minimally invasive procedures or surgery. Pharmaceuticals are generally the first course of action to treat uterine fibroids, while other treatments all involve varying levels of invasiveness and recovery time.
Minimally invasive and surgical options
There are several minimally-invasive and surgical options for the treatment of uterine fibroids. Minimally invasive surgeries may result in less blood loss, shorter hospital stays, smaller incisions for minimal scarring and less need for painmedication than traditional open surgery. The best surgical option for each woman, whether open or minimally-invasive, is reserved for case-by-case evaluation.
The Acessa™ Procedure uses radiofrequency ablation to destroy fibroids of all sizes and locations by applying energy through a small array of needle electrodes. Acessa only treats the fibroids, preserving the uterus. The procedure is performed on an outpatient basis and recovery times average 3-5 days.
Some women reject all treatment options for uterine fibroids due to side effects or risks.
Watch Dr. Falzone's interview about uterine fibriods here