Uterine Growths - Surgery

Did you have surgery for uterine growths (fibroids)? Please describe your experience.

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Surgery for fibroids

  1. Hysterectomy: Removal of the uterus is called a hysterectomy. Fibroids are the most common reason that hysterectomies are performed in the United States. Advantages are that: (1) the fibroids never return (the only "cure" for fibroids); (2) the women will never have another menstrual period (which some, but not all women, find to be an advantage); and (3) contraception is no longer a concern. It is easy to understand, therefore, that the best candidates for hysterectomy have already finished their childbearing.
  2. Myomectomy (Local Resection): This surgery involves the removal of the fibroids themselves without removal of the whole uterus. Myomectomy is not permanent in the sense that fibroids can grow back after the procedure. The fibroids grow back in about 25 to 50% of women, and about 10% of women will need a second surgery. Although myomectomy is a sure temporary measure, it is less guaranteed to be a permanent solution. Thus, this procedure is often used to "buy time" if the woman is planning to become pregnant in the next few years. The advantages of this surgery are that it preserves the uterus for childbearing and involves less extensive surgery, which implies less extensive recovery periods. Certainly, in the short term, bleeding tends to be much improved after myomectomy (in about 80% of women).
  3. Embolization: Another technique for treating fibroids is known as uterine artery embolization (UAE). This technique uses small beads of a compound called polyvinyl alcohol, which are injected through a catheter into the arteries that feed the fibroid. These beads obstruct the blood supply to the fibroid and starve it of blood and oxygen. Uterine artery occlusion (UAO), which involves clamping the involved uterine arteries as opposed to injecting the polyvinyl alcohol beads, has also been used as a way to interrupt blood supply to the fibroid.
  4. Other Procedures: Some treatments have involved boring holes into the fibroid with laser fibers, freezing probes (cryosurgery), and other destructive techniques that do not actually remove the tissue but try to destroy it in place.

Complications uterine fibroid surgery

It might seem very appealing to a woman to just have the uterus removed, however, as with any surgery, complications can include a risk (though extremely low) of dying from anesthesia. There are also risks of bleeding and infection, although these risks are fairly low. However, a hysterectomy is actually a more significant procedure than many women realize in that it does require substantial recovery time.

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