Uterine fibroids are a common occurrence in women over 30. They are clusters of muscular uterine tissue that develop in and around the uterus. Many women do not present any symptoms but with 75% of women likely to develop fibroids at some point in their lives, some women experience pain, bladder discomfort and reproductive problems, and are in need of fibroid treatment options.
The three treatment options are a myomectomy, hysterectomy or uterine fibroid embolization. Your doctor will consider factors such as the number of, size and location of the fibroids, how close you are to menopause and whether you want to be pregnant in future, when recommending a treatment option.
A myomectomy is a form of surgical fibroid removal which removes the fibroids without taking out the healthy tissue of the uterus. It is most commonly performed by making an incision in the abdomen, under general anaesthesia. There are 3 different methods; a hysteroscopy, laparoscopy and laparotomy, each with their own procedure and risk factors. Fibroids in hard to reach areas, multiple fibroids or if they are very large could necessitate a larger incision.
Due to the invasiveness of the procedure risk factors include blood loss, pain and infection, and longer recovery. The hospital stay can last from 1-3 days and recovery time is between 2 to 6 weeks.
Benefits of a myomectomy:
- No removal of healthy uterine tissue
- Ability to fall pregnant is not affected – may improve in some instances
Unfortunately, 50% of myomectomy patients will have fibroid regrowth within 1 year.
A hysterectomy is the removal of the uterus, also through an incision in the abdomen. It is considered to be the final treatment option as the patient will no longer be able to become pregnant. Hysterectomy surgery has similar risk factors and recovery period as the myomectomy surgery. The benefit is that regrowth is highly unlikely.
Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE)
Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) is the minimally-invasive and non-surgical fibroid treatment offered at Fibroid Care that involves injecting tiny inactive particles to create a blockage in the blood vessels that nourish the fibroid, thereby blocking the vessel and “starving” the fibroid.
The procedure is performed under local anaesthetic with no need for a general anaesthetic (or even epidural).
The entire procedure is performed via a very small needle placed into the artery opposite the hip joint (called the femoral artery). The vessels are accessed using a very small 2mm flexible tube (catheter).
There are no incisions or cuts and the procedure takes only 15 minutes. Although the procedure is pain-free there is pain afterwards (this is why patients sleep 1 night in hospital to manage this ‘menstrual period-like pain’).
In a short period of time, the fibroids die, then shrink creating relief from the symptoms. Results can be seen as soons as 24 hours after embolisation.
Benefits of UFE:
- Keeps the uterus intact
- No surgical risk or scarring
- Short downtime
- Fibroids unlikely to re-grow
Book your appointment for Uterine Fibroid Embolization.
- Parker WH (2012). Uterine fibroids. In JS Berek, ed., Berek and Novak’s Gynecology, 15th ed., pp. 438–469. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
- Practice Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, Society of Reproductive Surgeons (2008). Myomas and reproductive function. Fertility and Sterility, 90(3): S125–S130.