Fibroids are tumors that occur within the reproductive system of women. The symptoms of fibroids range from moderate to severe and differ from one woman to another. While some fibroids go away on their own, others may require surgical removal. The type of surgery depends on several factors including tumor size, its location and the number of tumors. There are a number of procedures to choose from and your doctor should advice you on the risks, possible side effects and the expected recovery time.
To most women, the uterine fibroids have mild to moderate symptoms which do not really need surgery or any substantial treatment. Such patients are advised to wait indefinitely and no treatment is required. There are, however, severe conditions such as heavy bleeding that lead to anemia and blockage of the ureters from large fibroids, pelvic pain, and incontinence that interfere with day-to-day life. These conditions will need surgery to remove the tumors.
The good news is that technological advancements have made the surgical removal of fibroids much simpler than before. The main surgical options available to patients with fibroids are:
This procedure is used to remove tiny tumors in the uterus and involves destroying the lining of the uterus. The procedure can be done in either of two ways:
Pregnancy is unlikely after this procedure, but it can happen. Women that manage to conceive after the procedure, however, have a higher risk of getting a miscarriage or other complications. Your healthcare provider will give you more information about this procedure and advise you on the best cause of action.
This procedure is preferable for women who plan to get pregnant in future. Myomectomy removes the fibroids only, leaving the other healthy parts intact. There are three ways in which this procedure can be carried out depending on the size and location of the fibroids. These are:
Studies have shown that myomectomy has 80 to 90 percent effectiveness, and the removed fibroids are unlikely to regrow. However, new fibroids can still grow.
The procedure is recommended for patients experiencing severe symptoms of fibroids such as heavy bleeding, and where the tumors are large. Hysterectomy is the only known way that cures uterine fibroids in finality and is highly recommended for women who are approaching menopause or have already passed through it. It involves removing the whole or part of the uterus. There are three types of hysterectomy:
Talk to your doctor if you are thinking of undergoing a hysterectomy. Your doctor will be able to advise you about keeping your ovaries which are essential in maintaining normal bone density (through the hormones that they produce) and sexual health. Your body will function properly with the ovaries even though the uterus has been removed. Be entirely sure of your decision to have a hysterectomy fibroid surgery because the process is irreversible.
UAE is a relatively new procedure that is an alternative to open surgeries to remove fibroids. This technique involves blocking the blood flow to the fibroids causing them to shrink and die eventually. It also reduces menstrual bleeding, pelvic pressure and pain as well as constipation.
UAE is performed in a radiology room and involves inserting a UV line while the patient is sedated although you will be awake but drowsy during the procedure. A needle is injected through an artery and a catheter is placed into the artery. X-rays are then done in a procedure called arteriogram.
The catheter is used to inject tiny particles called polyvinyl alcohol that block blood flow. Another arteriogram is performed to make sure the procedure was successful. The fibroids will then lack oxygen due to lack of blood and begin to shrink and eventually die. This process takes from few days to months.
The fibroids shrink by up to 50% while the uterus shrinks by up to 40%. The procedure is found is 80 to 90 percent effective in reducing symptoms although in some women it has been found to be less effective. Besides, cases of severe complications from UAE are also minimal at about 4%.
It is always advisable to maintain healthy practices such as the following after a fibroid surgery to prevent growth of new ones: