Fibroids are non-cancerous growth, usually found in the uterus of women in their childbearing age. These fibroids can be more than one and grow in size, with time. While they may be asymptomatic, depending on the size and location of the fibroid in the uterus.
There are multiple ways of treating uterine fibroids. Therefore proper case analysis is important to decide the best course of treatment. An ultrasound is the first test taken. While it gives an idea, an MRI by Interventional Radiologists gives better clarity on the case. It guides the gynaecologists and patients to decide the right course of uterine fibroid treatment.
Uterine Fibroid treatment can be done medically, surgically as well as using non-surgical procedures:
Birth control pills are administered to patients to treat uterine fibroids medically. These pills reduce heavy bleeding and the GnRH analogues (hormones) in them can shrink fibroids also. However, this initiates an artificial menopause. The fibroids also regrow and symptoms return when medication is stopped.
This is a conventional treatment where only the fibroid is removed (Myomectomy) or the entire uterus is removed (Hysterectomy) surgically depending on the patient/condition of fibroids. Surgical treatments usually have lengthy healing process and recovery time besides hospitalization period.
Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE), also called as Uterine Artery Embolization is a minimally invasive procedure done under local anaesthesia, using fluoroscopy guidance. An Interventional Radiologist inserts a thin catheter inside a thigh artery and guides it to the uterine artery. Tiny round particles called PVA (Poly Vinyl Alcohol) are injected into the blood vessels of the uterine artery for embolization. These particles block blood flow to the fibroids, causing them to shrink. The PVA particles remain permanently at the fibroid site.After a uterine fibroid/artery embolization, there is immediate relief from heavy bleeding. Pressure / size related symptoms take about a few weeks or months to disappear.
Since the uterine artery embolization cuts off blood and necessary nutrients for fibroid growth, they gradually shrink over a period of 3 – 6 months. Once the fibroids have shrunk, they do not grow back.
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