Uterine fibroids are the most common benign (non-cancerous) tumours in females and these occur in 20-40% of women in child bearing age. They greatly vary in size, from very tiny (less than a cm) to very large (15cm or more).
Fibroids are located in muscular wall of uterus. When these arise within the wall, they are called Intramural, when these arise just below the uterine surface, they are called subserosal. Fibroids grow more outwards, rather than inwards, hence are least symptomatic. When these arise just beneath uterine cavity lining, they are called submucosal. They distort and compress the lining and can cause heavy bleeding. Intramural are commonest and largely vary in size.
Causes: Fibroids can occur in any female and no specific reason for their occurrence, can be ascertained.
Diagnosis: They are generally diagnosed in ultrasound examination. The ultrasound test can either be prescribed by the doctor, after observing some concerning symptoms or can be part of a routine abdominal checkup. In case of very large fibroids, as a baseline test before starting treatment, MRI can also be suggested, as this shows the fibroids very clearly as rounded dark lesions in uterine wall.
Treatment: Scared of the surgical treatment recommended by your family doctor or Gynaecologist? Do not panic. Surgery is not required in majority of cases. The latest most advanced non-surgical treatment is Uterine Artery Embolization, which requires only one day hospitalization and no general anaesthesia & no surgical scar. This is a popular treatment in western countries and is now available in India, in New Delhi.
Surgical treatment myomectomy has high recurrence rate while hysterectomy is physically and emotionally traumatic. Uterine Artery Embolization treats all fibroids in one treatment, and the recurrence is almost nil and relief of symptoms is immediate. Hence, emotionally, physically and financially, this treatment has great overall advantage over surgical treatment.