Uterine Fibroid Treatment in Syracuse, NY
What Are Uterine Fibroids?
A fibroid is a benign mass of cells that exist within the tissues of the uterus. These lumps are not cancerous, though they can cause significant symptoms such as heavy menstrual bleeding, chronic pain, and more.
Fibroids are an extremely common female condition, and are said to affect up to 80% of all women by age 50, though not every individual will present symptoms of fibroids. Many women that do experience difficulties with fibroids will begin to notice symptoms as their benign tumors gradually grow larger over time. This growth is likely to continue, along with worsening symptoms, if the woman’s fibroids remain untreated.
CNY Women’s Healthcare prides itself on providing fibroid treatment for women throughout Syracuse, NY. If you and your care provider determine that you have uterine fibroids, it is a good idea to discuss the various alternative treatment options for fibroids that are available to you, including uterine fibroid embolization (UFE). To schedule a consultation at our OBGYN office in Syracuse, NY, please call (315) 446-4400 and meet with our board-certified women’s health providers.
What Causes Fibroids?
Unfortunately, there is no one particular cause to fibroids. Medical professionals and researchers speculate that the development of uterine fibroids is related to hormonal imbalances as well as the patient’s genetic history, meaning that individuals have little to no control over their risk for encountering this condition.
Who Is at Risk for Getting Fibroids?
In addition to having irregular hormone levels and a family history of fibroids, other factors that can influence a woman’s risk of developing fibroids are:
- Her age: Fibroids are most commonly diagnosed between age 30 and 40.
- Her weight: Obese individuals are more likely to suffer from fibroids. The more weight a woman carries, the greater her risk.
- Her ethnicity: African-American women encounter problems with uterine fibroids more than any other ethnic group.
- Her diet: More recent studies have shown that a high intake of red meat can negatively impact a woman’s likelihood to develop fibroid. In contrast, eating more leafy greens and fruit can have a positive effect on this particular risk factor.
What Are the Symptoms of Fibroids?
As mentioned, fibroids typically cause excessive bleeding along with recurring pelvic pain. This pain is often misdiagnosed by patients as regular cramping during their menstrual cycle, but is most often the result of the positioning or increasing size of their uterine fibroids.
In addition to heavy bleeding and pain, fibroids can also cause:
- Bloating of the lower abdomen
- Frequent and sudden need to urinate
- Pain during intercourse
- Problems with fertility
- Low back pain
- Complications during pregnancy
What Are the Different Types of Fibroids?
Uterine fibroids can appear in various areas of the uterus, leading to different categorization based on the location of the patient’s tissue mass. There are 4 distinct types of fibroids, which include:
- Pedunculated fibroids: A fibroid that develops a supportive stem that forms at the base of the tumor.
- Subserosal fibroids: A type of uterine fibroid that grows along the outside of the uterus.
- Intramural fibroids: The most common kind of uterine fibroid, which appears within the uterine wall itself.
- Submucosal fibroids: Similar to the intramural fibroid type, these fibroids also develop within the uterine wall, though they more specifically exist within the submucosal layer of this muscular tissue.
Non-Invasive Fibroid Treatment
Diagnosis and Watchful Waiting
If your fibroids do not cause symptoms, there is no need to treat them. Your OBGYN may want to watch them and monitor for any fibroid growth at each of your annual gynecological (OB-GYN) examinations. Some women may have fibroids, but not experience symptoms that affect their daily life.
Medications for uterine fibroids target hormones that regulate your menstrual cycle, treating symptoms such as heavy menstrual bleeding and pelvic pressure. They don’t eliminate fibroids, but may shrink them. The side effects of using these medications are similar to the symptoms experienced as a result of hormonal changes during and after menopause. These include weight gain, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, mood swings, changes in metabolism and infertility. In almost all cases, once hormone therapy has been stopped, fibroids tend to grow back, possibly reaching their original size again. This often occurs if the use of hormone therapy is not accompanied by another treatment.
Magnetic Resonance Guided Focused Ultrasound Surgery (MRgFUS)
High intensity focused ultrasound waves are used to heat an area of the fibroid, causing cell death. Pulses of ultrasound energy are repeatedly applied to treat the fibroid. During treatment, magnetic resonance images are used to enable the OBGYN to see the fibroid and surrounding organs in 3-D, pinpoint, guide, and continuously monitor the treatment in a non-invasive manner. The procedure can take 3-4 hours and requires you to lie on your stomach. Sedation and pain-relieving medication will be given to help you relax. You will be conscious throughout the procedure and will probably feel some warm sensation over the abdomen during the treatment. Patients may experience some abdominal pain, cramping or nausea. You may experience some cramps, shoulder or back pain that may last a few days after the procedure. Most women are able to return to work within 1-2 days.
Minimally Invasive Fibroid Treatment
A procedure called endometrial ablation destroys the endometrium – the lining of your uterus – with the goal of reducing your menstrual flow. In some women, menstrual flow may stop completely. No incisions are needed for endometrial ablation. Your OBGYN inserts slender tools through your cervix — the passageway between your vagina and your uterus. The tools vary, depending on the method used to destroy the endometrium. Some types of endometrial ablation use extreme cold, while other methods depend on heated fluids, microwave energy or high-energy radio frequencies. Endometrial ablation can only be used to treat submucosal fibroids that are less than one inch in diameter.
In this procedure, a long, thin scope with a light is passed through the vagina and cervix into the uterus. No incision is needed. A camera also can be used with the scope. Submucosal or intracavitary fibroids are easily visualized and can be resected or removed using a wire loop or similar device. Patients usually are sent home after the procedure. The hospital stay can last from 30 minutes to 2 hours and recovery time is generally 1-2 days. Generally, only fibroids that are small and accessible through the cavity can be treated this way.
The laparoscope is a slender telescope that is inserted through the navel to view the pelvic and abdominal organs. Two or three small, half-inch incisions are made below the pubic hairline and instruments are passed through these small incisions to perform the surgery. Next, a small scissors-like instrument is used to open the thin covering of the uterus. The fibroid is found underneath this covering, grasped, and freed from its attachments to the normal uterine muscle. After the fibroid is removed from the uterus, it must be brought out of the abdominal cavity. The fibroid is cut into small pieces with a special instrument called a morcellator, and the pieces are removed through one of the small incisions. Most women are able to leave the hospital the same day as surgery. For more extensive surgery, a one-day stay may be required. Patients can usually walk on the day of surgery, drive in about a week and return to normal activity, work, and exercise within two weeks.
In this procedure, four standard, quarter-inch incisions are made and ports are inserted for the robot’s camera and instrument arms. The surgeon first injects medication into the fibroids to decrease overall bleeding and then makes an incision in the uterus. The surgeon then removes the fibroid(s) from the surrounding uterine tissue. Once the fibroid has been removed, the surgeon uses a special device called a morcellator to cut the fibroid into smaller pieces inside the patient’s abdomen. These pieces are then removed through one of the incision ports. Patients typically go home the same day of the procedure and most patients are able to resume normal activities within two weeks.
In this operation, your surgeon enters the pelvic cavity through one or two incisions, depending on the size of the fibroid(s). A vertical incision is made from the middle of your abdomen, extends from just below your navel to just above your pubic bone. A vertical incision is recommended if your uterus has reached or exceeded the size comparable to if it were carrying a sixteen (16) week pregnancy. This incision might also be used if a fibroid is in a ligament between your uterus and pelvic wall. In other cases, a horizontal bikini-line incision is made that runs about an inch (about 2.5 centimeters) above your pubic bone. This incision follows your natural skin lines, so it usually results in a thinner scar and causes less pain than a vertical incision. Because it limits the surgeon’s access to your pelvic cavity, a bikini-line incision may not be appropriate if you have a large fibroid. Abdominal myomectomy usually requires a hospital stay of two to three days. Recovery takes four to six weeks.
The uterus is removed through the vaginal opening. This procedure is most often used in cases of uterine prolapse, or when vaginal repairs are necessary for related conditions. During a vaginal hysterectomy, the surgeon detaches the uterus from the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and upper vagina, as well as from the blood vessels and connective tissue that support it. The uterus is then removed through the vagina. However, if your uterus is enlarged, vaginal hysterectomy may not be possible.
Laparoscope-Assisted Vaginal Hysterectomy (LAVH)
Laparoscopically-assisted vaginal hysterectomy (LAVH) is a surgical procedure using a laparoscope (a thin, flexible tube containing a video camera) to guide the removal of the uterus and/or fallopian tubes and ovaries through the vagina (birth canal). During LAVH, several small incisions are made in the abdominal wall through which slender metal tubes are known as “trocars” are inserted to provide passage for a laparoscope and other microsurgical tools. Next, the uterus is detached from the ligaments that attach it to other structures in the pelvis using the laparoscopic tools. The fallopian tubes and ovaries are also detached from their ligaments and blood supply. The organs and tissue are then removed through an incision made in the vagina. LAVH typically requires a one to three-day hospital stay. Complete recovery time is usually four weeks.
A robotic-assisted laparoscopic hysterectomy uses a computer to control the surgical instruments during the surgery. The surgeon controls the movements of the computer from a computer station in the operating room. At this point, three or four small incisions will be made near your belly button. Gas may be pumped into your belly to distend it to give your surgeon a better view and more room to work. The laparoscope is inserted into your abdomen; while other surgical instruments will be inserted through the other incisions. The surgeon will attach the laparoscope and the instruments to the robotic arms of the computer and then move to the control area to remotely control the surgery. Your uterus will be cut into small pieces that can be removed through the small incisions. Depending on the reasons for your hysterectomy, the whole uterus may be removed or just the part above the cervix. The fallopian tubes and ovaries attached to the uterus may also be removed. Most people stay in the hospital for a few days. Complete recovery may take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.
The uterus is removed through the abdomen via a surgical incision about six to eight inches long. The main surgical incision can be made either vertically, from the navel down to the pubic bone, or horizontally, along the top of the pubic hairline. After the incision has been made through the layers of skin, muscle, and other tissue, the physician will inspect the organs and other structures in the abdomen and pelvis. The tissues connecting the uterus to blood vessels and other structures in the pelvis will be carefully cut away. The uterus will be removed, along with any other structures such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and cervix, as required by your situation. Abdominal hysterectomy usually requires a hospital stay of one to two days, but it could be longer. The recovery period is usually about six to eight weeks.
Schedule a Consultation for Uterine Fibroid Treatment in Syracuse, NY
The board-certified OBGYNs at CNY Women’s Healthcare have extensive experience diagnosing and treating uterine fibroids and can help you determine the treatment options available based on your condition. To schedule a consultation at our OBGYN office in East Syracuse, NY, please call (315) 446-4400 to schedule today!