About Uterine Fibroids
Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths of the uterus that often appear during a woman's reproductive years. Uterine fibroids can also be referred to as fibromyomas, leiomyomas or myomas. Fibroids can form on any part of the uterus, including the lower part or even the cervix. The type of fibroid is determined by its location within the uterus. There are three main types of fibroids. An intramural fibroid forms within the muscle wall of the uterus. A submucosal fibroid grows into the inner cavity of the uterus, and a subserosal fibroid projects to the outside of the uterus. Occasionally a fibroid will grow on a stalk (pendunculated) inside or outside of the uterus.
While fibroids are very common and are found in more than one third of women who are of child bearing age, the exact cause of fibroids remains unknown. However, there are several factors that may increase your chance of developing fibroid(s). These risk factors include:
- African-American women (compared to caucasian) are 2-3 times more likely to develop fibroids
- Women who are overweight or obese
- Family history of fibroids
- Using birth control pills at an early age (13-16 years of age)
- Heavy alcohol use
- Menstrating at an early age (less than 10 years of age)
- Having never been pregnant (nulliparity)
As many as three out of four women are said to have uterine fibroids, but most are unaware of them because they often cause no signs or symptoms. Your physician may discover them during a routine pelvic exam or prenatal ultrasound. More definitive ways to diagnose fibroids include transvaginal ultrasound, sonohysterogram, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), hysterosalpingogram (HSG), hysteroscopy, or endometrial biopsy.
Common signs and symptoms of uterine fibroids include:
- heavy menstrual bleeding
- prolonged menstrual periods or irregular bleeding between periods
- pelvic pressure
- pelvic pain
- urinary frequency
- pain during sexual intercourse
- low back pain
- complications with pregnancy (infertility,miscarriage, or early labor)
To learn more about Uterine Fibroids click here.
Uterine Fibroid Treatment
Many treatment options exist for uterine fibroids. For women who have no signs or symptoms, expectant management could be the best course of treatment because fibroids are non-cancerous and are usually slow growing. For women with symptoms who require treatment, there are a variety of options to consider. The most common treatments include medical management, uterine artery embolization, and/or surgical treatment. Surgical options are available for women who wish to preserve future fertility and for those who have completed childbearing. Here at the CARES Center our surgeons offer the latest surgical options for the treatment of fibroids with the use of the daVinci® surgical system.
Robotic Myomectomy - Fertility Sparing Option
Robotic myomectomy is a minimally invasive procedure performed with the assistance of the daVinci® surgical system and involves the surgical removal of the uterine fibroid(s) without removing the uterus. The use of the da Vinci® surgical system allows the surgeon to remove the fibroid(s) and repair the uterus with sutures more efficiently than with the standard laparoscopic technique. This newer technique requires only several small incisions which have shown numerous benefits such as reduced blood loss and reduced hospital stay. The recovery time is dramatically reduced from 4-6 weeks to 2-3 weeks. While myomectomy is the only accepted procedure for fibroids in women wishing to maintain fertility it may lead to scarring that can negatively affect future fertility. This minimally invasive approach helps reduce the amount of scarring.
Robotic Hysterectomy - Definitive Option
Robotic hysterectomy is a definitive treatment for uterine fibroids. Robotic hysterectomy involves the removal of the uterus and may or may not involve additional reproductive organs and tissues such as fallopian tubes and ovaries. Hysterectomy is often used if your fibroids are large, you have heavy bleeding, and you are either near or past menopause or do not wish to bear anymore children. With the use of the da Vinci® surgical system physicians here at the UNC CARES Center are able to perform the most precise, minimally invasive hysterectomy available today. The high-definition scaled 3-dimensional imaging of the surgical field allows the surgeon optimum viewing and manipulation of supporting nerves and tissues. The da Vinci® robotic hysterectomy offers unsurpassed benefits to both surgeon and patient.
Robotic Hysterectomy or Robotic Myomectomy - Which treatment is right for you?
To learn more about Robotic Hysterectomy and Robotic Myomectomy and what is the right treatment option for you, contact us or call us at (919) 843-7805.