What are Uterine Fibroids?
Uterine fibroids, also known as leiomyomas or myomas, are benign tumors that grow on the wall of the uterus. Almost all fibroids are non-cancerous, and in very rare cases can turn cancerous. Having uterine fibroids does not mean you are more likely to develop uterine cancer.
Fibroids can grow as a single lump, or cluster. Uterine fibroids can be as small as a seed or as big as a watermelon. 20-80% of women develop fibroids by the time they reach the age of 50. Experts do not know the exact cause of why women develop uterine fibroids. Hormones and genetics may increase the chances of developing uterine fibroids.
What are Uterine Fibroid Symptoms?
Not all women with uterine fibroids develop symptoms. Uterine fibroid symptoms can include:
- Painful periods or heavy bleeding
- Bleeding between periods
- Feeling of fullness in the lower stomach area
- Physical enlargement in the lower abdomen
- Frequent urination or the sensation of pressure on the bladder
- Pain during intercourse
- Lower back pain or pressure
In some cases, women with uterine fibroids can have complications during pregnancy and labor leading to a six-time greater risk of a cesarean section. In very rare cases, women can have reproductive problems such as infertility.
When to Have Uterine Fibroids Removed?
There are several factors to consider when deciding to have uterine fibroids removed:
- If symptoms a persistent
- If the patient plans to become pregnant in the future
- The size of the uterine fibroids
- The location of the fibroid within the uterus
- The patients age and how close they are to menopause
In some cases, if symptoms are not present, the patient may not need treatment for their uterine fibroids.
Uterine Fibroids Treatment Options
In cases of mild uterine fibroid symptoms, your physician may recommend a mild uterine fibroid treatment such as taking over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen to alleviate mild pain. In other cases, a low-dose of birth-control, or an IUD can be prescribed to help control symptoms of heavy bleeding. Other drugs such as Lupron® can be prescribed to help reduce the size of the fibroids. When conservative measures do not alleviate symptoms, a robotic myomectomy may be recommended.
Am I a Candidate for Robotic Myomectomy?
For patients who have a smaller, or a limited number of uterine fibroids, a robotic myomectomy may be recommended. Patients who have smaller uterine fibroids are ideal candidates for robotic myomectomy due to the size of the incision made during the procedure. Patients who have chronic or heavy bleeding due to uterine fibroids, may also be a candidate for robotic myomectomy.
What is a Robotic Myomectomy?
Robotic myomectomy is a minimally invasive procedure used to remove uterine fibroids. To begin the procedure, the surgeon will make a small incision just above the belly button, and insert a tube called a port. The port will be used to insert carbon dioxide to inflate the patients belly to give the surgeon more room to visualize the space and maneuver instruments during the procedure. Once the abdomen is inflated, a high-definition camera will be inserted into the port. The surgeon will make additional port incisions.
Seated at a robotic console, the surgeon will maneuver the robotic arms with controls and foot pedals. A high-definition vision system will show the surgeon a 3-dimensional view of the surgical site. The computer will translate the exact movements of the surgeon through the surgical tools. The surgeon will carefully cut around the edge of the uterine fibroid and remove it. The remaining edges of the uterus will be closed with sutures. The incisions made on the belly will also be closed with sutures.
What are the Benefits of Robotic Myomectomy?
The benefit of robotic myomectomy is:
- Quicker recovery time compared to traditional open surgery
- Less scar tissue formation
- Less bleeding, which leads to improved rate of fertility
- Low complication rate
The physicians at Women’s Specialists of Plano are experts at performing robotic surgery for the treatment of endometriosis. Patients who have been recommended to have an open surgery, rather than robotic surgery, it is important to get a second opinion to ensure the right course of treatment. Being able to return to work and daily activities quicker, makes a robotic myomectomy the better choice for today’s busy woman.
What to Expect After Robotic Myomectomy?
In some cases, patients will return home the same day. After surgery, you can expect some pain, which can be managed with pain medication. You can resume a normal diet as soon as you are able. Patients are encouraged to move around to help prevent blood clotting.