Mecklenburg Radiology

Uterine Fibroids

Uterine fibroids, also known as leiomyomas, are benign tumors of the uterus which can grow and cause enlargement of the uterus. The enlarged uterus and fibroids can cause symptoms such as abnormal bleeding, pelvic pain, discomfort, and fullness, frequent urination, and constipation. Very rarely, these tumors can transform into a form of cancer known as leiomyosarcoma.

How do we diagnose Uterine Fibroids?

In many cases, fibroids are diagnosed during routine pelvic exams performed by a gynecologist or primary care physician. If the uterus feels enlarged, the next step is typically a pelvic ultrasound. Sometimes, MRI can be used to further characterize these benign tumors.

Ultrasound
Ultrasound is the primary imaging exam for the evaluation of fibroids. Ultrasound does not produce radiation and instead uses high frequency soundwaves to image the uterus and other pelvic structures with a high level of detail.

MRI
Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, is another important tool for characterizing fibroids. MRI uses a powerful magnetic field to produce images of the uterus and pelvis. MRI does not use or produce radiation and therefore is not associated with radiation risks or effects.

How do we treat Uterine Fibroids?

Medications
Your gynecologist or primary care physician may prescribe medications to manage the symptoms of fibroids, which may vary in size and the symptoms they produce, based on the phase of your menstrual cycle.

Embolization
Uterine fibroid embolization is a minimally invasive procedure performed by interventional radiologists to treat fibroids by eliminating their blood supply. It is performed from within the artery (endovascular) through a steerable catheter inserted into the blood stream at the groin and guided to the uterus. Tiny coils or other devices are placed in the arteries that supply the fibroids, which effectively block the blood supply to these tumors and causes them to shrink. This procedure is performed with the use of x-rays in a process called angiography.

Surgery
In the case of large or extremely bothersome fibroids, surgery can be used to treat these fibroids. The fibroid(s) can be removed in a procedure called a myomectomy. Alternatively, the entire uterus can be removed in a procedure called a hysterectomy. This decision is best made in conjunction with your gynecologist.