A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the uterus, and is incredibly common; about 600,000 women every year have a hysterectomy. Uterine fibroids are one of the most common reasons women undergo hysterectomies. Though this is an effective treatment method, many women may want to avoid such an invasive and permanent procedure. The decision to get a hysterectomy is not taken lightly and can be an extremely difficult choice for many women.
Effects of Hysterectomies
Younger women, who have not reached menopause, might want to consider that after a hysterectomy, menstruation will no longer occur, nor will pregnancy be possible. Like all surgical procedures, hysterectomies involve some risk. Short-term risks of hysterectomy are usually mild, minimal, and occur in the first 30 days after surgery. There is very small risk of injuring surrounding organs and structures such as the urinary bladder or ureter which can require additional repair by urology or nephrostomy tube placement until the bladder or ureter injury heals. After a hysterectomy there is a rare but long-term risk of pelvic prolapse, which is the stretching or dropping of pelvic organs into an abnormal position. Though fibroids are a common reason for a hysterectomy, a hysterectomy is not the only option when diagnosed with uterine fibroids.
What are Uterine Fibroids
Fibroids are tumors are generally found in the smooth muscles of the uterus. They are most often benign and symptom-free. However, uterine fibroids can cause pelvic pain, infertility, constipation, frequent urination, and heavy and/or painful menstrual bleeding. When occurring during pregnancy, fibroids may give rise to complications such as miscarriage, preterm birth, or postpartum hemorrhage. About 20% to 40% of women age 35 and older have fibroids of significant enough size to cause symptoms.
Diagnosing Uterine Fibroids
Doctors can detect some fibroids as masses during a pelvic exam though an ultrasound is the standard imaging technique for detecting uterine fibroids. MRI of the abdomen pelvis is also a great tool to evaluate the pelvic anatomy, type and number of uterine fibroids and is also a great way to follow up after treatment of fibroids. A hysteroscopy can be used detect the presence of fibroids inside of the uterine cavity. It may also be used during surgical procedures to remove fibroids. Other times laparoscopic surgery may be performed as a diagnostic procedure.
Treatment Options to Avoid a Hysterectomy
If you suffer from uterine fibroids you may wish you had a clear way to stop bleeding, eliminate pain, or rid yourself of bloating. While hysterectomies are a common treatment option, it is not without side effects any many women may want to avoid the surgery.
Myomectomy is the surgical removal of fibroids, which will often resolve the problem. However, myomectomy , although less invasive still requires surgery. It is highly effective, and may be an alternative treatment option to hysterectomy. The type of fibroid present will impact the approach taken when performing the myomectomy, so it’s important to consult with experts like those at the Vein & Fibroid Treatment Center.
At the Vein & Fibroid Treatment Center, we can offer a consultation and a second opinion if you are a good candidate for even a less invasive procedure called uterine artery embolization.
A uterine artery embolization is a procedure to treat fibroids without surgery. In this procedure, Dr. Omar Saleh uses a slender, flexible tube (catheter) to inject small particles (embolic agents) into the uterine arteries which supply blood to your fibroids and uterus. The goal is to block the blood supply to the fibroids, starving the fibroids and causing them to shrink and no longer be viable without causing harm to the normal uterine tissue. Recent publications have shown that uterine artery embolization procedure is comparable to myomectomy in overall results. This is a great option for many female patients because it’s a great alternative to hysterectomy and less invasive than a myomectomy. Thanks to Dr. Saleh’s decade plus of experience, he’s able to offer this procedure as a viable alternative to major surgery- resulting in less complications and faster recovery time. A consultation with Dr. Saleh will determine which procedure is best for you. If you’re experiencing symptoms, want to discuss options, or just in need of more information, contact us here.