Fibroids are non-cancerous (benign) tumors that grow from the muscle layers of the uterus (womb). They are also known as uterine fibroids, myomas, or fibromyomas. The singular of uterine fibroids is Uterine Fibroma. Fibroids are growths of smooth muscle and fibrous tissue. Fibroids can vary in size, from that of a bean to as large as a melon.
Fibroids affect at least 20% of all women at sometime during their life. Women aged between 30 and 50 are the most likely to develop fibroids. Overweight and obese women are at significantly higher risk of developing fibroids, compared to women of normal weight.
Malignant (cancerous) growths on the smooth muscles inside the womb can develop, called leiomyosarcoma of the womb. However, this is extremely rare.
Four types of fibroids
There are four types of fibroids and these are:
- IntramuralThese are located in the wall of the uterus. These are the most common types of fibroid.
These are located outside the wall of the uterus. They can develop into pedunculated fibroids (stalks). Subserosal fibroids can become quite large.
These are located in the muscle beneath the lining of the uterus wall.
These are located in the neck of the womb (the cervix).
Symptoms of uterine fibroids
Most women have no symptoms. That is why most patients with fibroids do not know they have them. When symptoms do develop, they may include:
- Anemia (as a result of heavy periods)
- Discomfort in the lower abdomen (especially if fibroids are large)
- Frequent urination
- Heavy painful periods
- Pain in the legs
- Painful sex
- Swelling in the lower abdomen (especially if fibroids are large)
Other possible symptoms of uterine fibroids include:
- Labor problems
- Pregnancy problems
- Fertility problems
- Repeated miscarriages.
Diagnosis of fibroids
In most cases, the symptoms of fibroids are rarely felt and the patient does not know she has them. They are usually discovered during a vaginal examination.
- UltrasoundIf the doctor thinks fibroids may be present he/she may use an ultrasound scan to find out. Ultrasound can also eliminate other possible conditions which may have similar symptoms. Ultrasound scans are often used when the patient has heavy periods and blood tests have revealed nothing conclusive.
- Trans-vaginal scanA small scanner is inserted into the patient’s vagina so that the uterus can be viewed close up.
- HysteroscopyThis is a small telescope that examines the inside of the uterus. During this procedure, if necessary, a biopsy can be taken of the lining of the uterus (womb).
- LaparoscopyA laparoscope is a small device that looks at the outside of the uterus – where the doctor examines its size and shape. A laparoscope is a small flexible tube. During this procedure, if necessary, a biopsy can be taken of the outer layer of the uterus.
- BiopsyA small sample of the lining of the uterus is taken and then examined under a microscope.
Many women with uterine fibroids experience no signs or symptoms, or only mildly annoying signs and symptoms that they can live with. If that’s the case for you, watchful waiting could be the best option. Fibroids aren’t cancerous. They rarely interfere with pregnancy. They usually grow slowly — or not at all — and tend to shrink after menopause, when levels of reproductive hormones drop.
Medications for uterine fibroids target hormones that regulate your menstrual cycle, treating symptoms such as heavy menstrual bleeding and pelvic pressure. They don’t eliminate fibroids, but may shrink them. Medications include:
- Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (Gn-RH) agonists.
- Progestin-releasing intrauterine device (IUD)
- Other medications- For example, oral contraceptives or progestins can help control menstrual bleeding, but they don’t reduce fibroid size. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
Minimally invasive procedures- 3D Laparoscopic myomectomy.
Not all surgeons are trained in laparoscopic surgery; because of the small size of the incisions, removing uterine fibroids with laparoscopic myomectomy requires special training. Fibroids that are attached to the outside of the uterus by a stalk (pedunculated fibroids) are the easiest to remove laparoscopically.
Laparoscopic myomectomy is a surgical techniue of removal of uterine fibroids preserving the uterus to grow abnormally.Its an modern edge technology for fibroid removal .
Laparoscopic myomectomy is a successful surgical procedure that removes the fibroids keeping the uterus intact. The procedure is usually beneficial for the women those who are willing to be pregnant as the procedure improves the chances of pregnancy. The goal of the surgery is to remove the symptom causing fibroids and to reconstruct the uterus. The surgical method of myomectomy depends on several factors such as size, number and locations of the fibroids.
Laparoscopic myomectomy is a minimally invasive surgical approach to remove the fibroids from the uterus. In this procedure, the doctor makes several small holes near the navel area and inserts a laparoscope into the abdomen. Laparoscope (long, thin tube), a camera attached to it, allows the doctor to view the internal structures of the uterus. Through another hole, the doctor inserts a surgical instrument to remove the fibroids. The fibroids are usually cut into smaller pieces and removed from the uterus. The advantages of the laparoscopic myomectomy involve less bleeding, less painful and allow the individual to returning back to normal activities quickly.
After the laparoscopic myomectomy, usually most of the patient may experiences relief from the symptoms and a gradual improvement in the fertility. Hospitalization after the surgery depends on the choice of surgical procedure. Mostly after laparoscopic myomectomy, patient is discharged on the same day or sometime laparoscopic approach may require one night of hospitalization. Recovery of the condition may take one to six weeks of time depending on the procedure used. The patients are advised to follow the instructions, medications, lifestyle and diet prescribed by the doctor to prevent future complications. Patients are also advised to attend the regular follow up schedule decided by the doctor. If any post surgical complications or queries regarding the surgery occur, patients are suggested to consult the gynaecologist or the health centre