Frequently, fibroids can be managed by procedures designed to treat the symptoms uterine fibroids cause. There are many medications that can treat symptoms, but sometimes, surgery is indicated.
If abnormal bleeding is your primary concern, you may undergo a procedure called a dilation and curettage (D&C). The cervix is dilated wide enough to introduce a curved blade that scrapes out the lining of the uterus.
The two main reasons for this procedure are:
Uterine fibroid embolization is designed to cut off the blood flow to fibroids and kill them by cutting their lifeline.
During this procedure, a radiologist will thread a catheter into an artery in your groin and guide it into the uterus. The catheter will be threaded with the aid of dye and x-rays. The radiologist will then inject small particles to block the blood supply feeding the fibroids.
Myolysis is a procedure that shrinks the fibroids, using a directed heat source. Several devices can be used that have high frequency electrical current or lasers that cauterize (burn) the blood supply to the fibroids. The devices are usually inserted through very small incisions and guided by a laparoscope. As an alternative, cryohemolysis uses liquid nitrogen to freeze the fibroids.
The fibroids remain in place and are not surgically removed. Without a blood supply, the fibroids shrink. Myolysis and cryohemolysis are done on fibroids of certain sizes near the surface of the uterus.
In this procedure, you will be inside an MRI scan machine, which will allow your uterus and the rest of the abdominal area to be viewed. Focused sound waves will be used to destroy the fibroids, while leaving your uterus intact.
Myomectomy is the surgical removal of fibroids without removing the uterus. Unlike a hysterectomy, a myomectomy can preserve fertility. There are a variety of ways a myomectomy can be performed depending on where the fibroids are located and how large they are. Examples are:
A hysterectomy is removal of the uterus. There are different types of this procedure, such as:
A supracervical hysterectomy is surgery to remove the uterus only. This is not done as often because the cervix can still cause problems. However, a woman may choose this option if she wants to keep her cervix or if the removal of the cervix may make the surgery more difficult.
A total hysterectomy is done either through the abdomen or, if the uterus is small enough, through the vagina. A vaginal approach may be combined with a repair of weakened and stretched tissues in the vaginal walls.
Pregnancy is impossible after a hysterectomy.
Contact your doctor if any of the following occur after your procedure:
Fibroids. Healthy Women website. Available at: http://www.healthywomen.org/condition/fibroids. Updated August 9, 2011. Accessed January 7, 2014.
Uterine fibroids. Focused Ultrasound Foundation website. Available at: http://www.fusfoundation.org/Uterine-Fibroids/uterine-fibroids. Accessed January 7, 2014.
Uterine leiomyoma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/. Updated November 7, 2013. Accessed January 7, 2014.
Last reviewed December 2013 by Andrea Chisholm, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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