Fibroids & Treatment Options
Uterine fibroids are benign (non-cancerous) tumors occurring in at least one quarter of all women. They can grow underneath the uterine lining, inside the uterine wall, or outside the uterus.
Many women don’t feel any symptoms with uterine tumors or fibroids. But for others, these fibroids can cause excessive menstrual bleeding, abnormal periods, uterine bleeding, pain, discomfort, frequent urination and infertility.
Treatments include uterine fibroid embolization, which shrinks the tumor, and surgery. Surgical treatment for uterine tumors most often involves hysterectomy, where the surgeon removes the entire uterus.
While hysterectomy is a proven way to resolve fibroids, it may not be the best surgical treatment for every woman. If, for example, you hope to later become pregnant, you may want to consider a uterine-preserving alternative, like myomectomy.
Types of Myomectomy
About 65,000 myomectomies are performed in the U.S. each year. The conventional approach to this procedure is open surgery, through a large abdominal incision. After cutting around and removing each uterine fibroid, the surgeon must carefully repair the uterine wall to minimize potential uterine bleeding, infection and scarring. Proper repair is also critical to reducing the risk of uterine rupture during future pregnancies. Menorrhagia is extensive menstrual bleeding.
Myomectomy is also performed laparoscopically, although this approach can be challenging for the surgeon, and may compromise results compared to open surgery. Laparoscopic myomectomies often take longer than open abdominal myomectomies, and up to 28 percent are converted during surgery to an open abdominal incision.
A new category of minimally invasive myomectomy combines the best of open and laparoscopic surgery. Utilizing the da Vinci™ surgical robot, surgeons may remove uterine fibroids through small incisions with unmatched precision and control.
If you would like to discover whether you are a candidate for myomectomy, ask your doctor. To learn more about uterine fibroids and treatment options, visit the National Institutes of Health web site.