Are you aware that fibroids are the most common non-cancerous tumor in women? Let’s discuss what a fibroid is, how it presents itself, and the importance of imaging for detecting fibroids.
What are Fibroids?
When an abnormal growth forms on or around a women’s uterus, it’s called a fibroid, which is formally known as “leiomyomas” or “myoma.” Uterine fibroids are predominately benign or noncancerous and can vary in shape and size. . Uterine fibroids can cause discomfort, abnormal bleeding in patients, and in some cases lead to reproductive issues. Although the direct cause of fibroids is still unknown, age, family history, high blood pressure and obesity are all contributing risk factors. The Office on Women’s Health claims that by the age of 50, 20% of women will have had a fibroid.
The Silent Symptoms of Fibroids
The scary truth is that most women have no idea they have a fibroid. However, if symptoms do manifest, they can be not pleasant. Here are the most common symptoms when dealing with fibroids:
- Changes in menstruation – This can result in longer, more frequent, or heavy periods, heightened menstrual cramps, irregular vaginal bleeding and even anemia due to blood loss.
- Pain – Pain during intercourse, constipation, or pain in the lower abdomen/back that is often aching and heavy can be indications of fibroids.
- Pressure – Feeling as if you are “full” near the abdomen causing what is sometimes called pelvic pressure.
- Reproductive problems – In some cases, women with fibroids can struggle with infertility, repeated miscarriage, and early onset of labor during pregnancy.
Notably, fibroids that are attached to the uterus by a stem can potentially twist resulting in fever, nausea, and pain. Due to the recurrence of asymptomatic fibroid patients, routine pelvic examinations are highly advised.
The Importance of Imaging Services
You can’t always feel fibroids, so how would you know you have them? Fibroids can be discovered during a routine pelvic examination. Another method of detection is through radiological imaging. Some types of imaging utilized to diagnose fibroids include:
- Computed Tomography (CT) or Computer-Assisted Tomography (CAT) scan – which scans the body with x-rays from varied angles to compile a more complete photo than a regular x-ray.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – which using magnets and radio waves creates an image of the inside of one’s body. MRIs are considered the most effective form of imaging seeing as they’re the most successful in identifying exact location and provide the clearest image.
- Ultrasound – forms a picture by using sound waves; this exam can be completed externally on the abdomen or inside the vagina.
Interventional radiology services are common to help remove uterine fibroids. A Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) is a non-surgical form of treatment that is a highly effective alternative to a hysterectomy. The procedure usually takes less than one hour and has a quick recovery compared to a typical surgery.
The importance of imaging for detecting fibroids is not something to ignore! Radiology of Indiana continues to be national experts in UFE and perform the largest number of procedures in the state of Indiana. Click to learn more about the Uterine Fibroid Embolization procedure, which is offered at our four interventional radiology centers. You can also request an appointment here!