published Thursday, June 28th, 2012

Ask a Doctor: My doctor tells me I have uterine fibroids

Readers: To submit a question for a medical doctor, email it to Clint Cooper at See this space each week for answers.

Q: My doctor tells me I have uterine fibroids. What is that, and what can I do about it?

A: Uterine fibroids are relatively common noncancerous (benign) growths that develop in the muscular wall of the uterus. About 20 percent to 40 percent of women 35 years and older have uterine fibroids. The most common symptoms are heavy menstrual periods, pelvic pain and frequent urgency to urinate. Uterine fibroids may be treated a number of ways, including hysterec-tomy, myomec-tomy and uterine fibroid embolization. The latter, UFE, is a minimally invasive procedure performed by an interventional radiologist. A small flexible catheter is inserted into the femoral artery and guided to block the blood flow to the fibroid, depriving it of oxygen and nutrients required to grow, reducing or relieving symptoms. The majority of women treated with UFE experience significant or total relief from symptoms such as pain and heavy bleeding. Treatments are generally easier for the patient than surgery and require less time in the hospital. Usually this procedure can be performed on an outpatient basis, but sometimes an overnight hospital stay is needed.

— Dr. Steve Quarfordt, Tennessee Interventional Associates; member, Chattanooga Hamilton County Medical Society

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