Thumbnail image of: Female Pelvis: Illustration
Thumbnail image of: Uterine Fibroids: Illustration

Uterine Fibroid

What is a uterine fibroid?

A uterine fibroid (also called a fibromyoma, leiomyoma, or myoma) is a noncancerous growth of the uterus. It grows slowly in the uterus and it may grow in the cervix. A uterine fibroid may be as small as a pea or as large as a grapefruit. As the fibroid grows, the uterus may become deformed or displaced. The growing size of the uterus due to the fibroid may cause symptoms in the bladder or intestine. In very rare cases, a fibroid can grow rapidly and may become cancerous.

The cause of uterine fibroids is not known, but it may be related to changes in the levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone and in proteins called growth factors. For example, pregnancy, use of birth control pills, and some hormone therapies may speed the growth of fibroids. It also appears that women may inherit the tendency to develop fibroids.

What can I expect in the hospital?

You may need to stay in the hospital for treatment of your uterine fibroid(s) because your symptoms are severe or medical treatment outside the hospital has not been effective. Several things may be done while you are in the hospital to monitor, test, and treat your condition. They may include:


  • You will be checked often by the hospital staff.
  • Your heart rate, blood pressure, and temperature will be checked regularly.
  • Your blood oxygen level will be monitored by a sensor that is attached to your finger or earlobe.


Testing may include:

  • A pelvic exam to check the size of the uterus
  • Blood tests to check for infections or blood loss
  • Ultrasound scan: Sound waves and their echoes are passed through the body from a small device (called a transducer) that is held against your skin or put inside the vagina to create pictures of the uterus
  • Sonohysterogram: A ultrasound scan where fluid is put into the uterus before sound waves and their echoes are passed through the body from a transducer that is held against your skin or put inside the vagina to create pictures of the uterus
  • Hysteroscopy: – A procedure in which your healthcare provider inserts a slim, flexible, lighted tube with a camera into the uterus through the vagina to look at the inside of the uterus. Fibroids may also be treated during this procedure.
  • Hysterosalpingogram: A procedure in which your provider puts dye into the uterus to create pictures of the inside of the uterus and tubes
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan: A series of X-rays taken from different angles and arranged by a computer to show thin cross sections of the uterus
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): A powerful magnetic field and radio waves are used to take pictures from different angles to show thin sections of the uterus


The treatment for uterine fibroids depends on how many fibroids you have, how large they are, and how severe your symptoms are.

  • You will have a small tube (IV catheter) inserted into a vein in your hand or arm. This will allow medicine to be given directly into your blood and to give you fluids, if needed.
  • You will be given medicines to prevent pain during your treatment. The type of anesthesia you need depends on the type of procedure you have. These may include:
    • Local anesthesia: Numbs the cervix and uterus while you remain awake
    • Regional anesthesia: Numbs the lower half of your body while you remain awake
    • General anesthesia: Relaxes your muscles and puts you to sleep. A breathing tube is usually put in your throat when you have general anesthesia
  • Treatments for uterine fibroids may include:
    • Uterine artery embolization (UAE): A procedure in which a thin, flexible tube (catheter) is put into a blood vessel in your groin and guided up to the uterine artery. Arteries providing blood to the fibroid are then blocked using plastic, metal, or other small materials. This may help to shrink the fibroids and can help stop heavy bleeding.
    • Dilatation and curettage (D&C): A procedure in which your provider widens the cervix and scrapes or suctions tissue from the lining of the uterus to reduce bleeding caused by the fibroid. This procedure does not remove the fibroid and the abnormal bleeding may come back.
    • Myomectomy: Surgery to remove the fibroids without removing the uterus. There are several ways a myomectomy may be done:
      • Hysteroscopy A procedure in which your healthcare provider inserts a slim, flexible, lighted tube with a camera into the uterus through the vagina to look at the inside of the uterus and see the fibroid. Fibroids are then removed with laser or high energy electrical heat (electrocautery). Your provider may insert a small balloon catheter in your uterus after the procedure. It may need to stay in the uterus for a while to help prevent scar tissue from forming inside your uterus.
      • Laparoscopic myomectomy: A surgical procedure that uses a small lighted tube put into the abdomen through a small cut to look at the organs and pelvic cavity. This allows your provider to see and remove the fibroid.
      • Abdominal myomectomy: Surgery to remove the fibroids through one larger cut in your lower abdomen
    • Hysterectomy: Surgery to remove the cervix and uterus. Tissue on the sides of the cervix may also be removed. In some cases, the fallopian tubes and ovaries are also removed. If your uterus is removed, you will not be able to get pregnant.
  • Your provider may prescribe medicine to:
    • Treat pain
    • Treat or prevent an infection
    • Prevent side effects, such as nausea or constipation, from other treatments
    • Soften stool and reduce straining with a bowel movement
    • Help relax your airways
    • Reduce symptoms from fibroids or to treat symptoms of menopause if your ovaries were removed with your uterus
  • To care for your incision:
    • Keep your surgery site clean.
    • If you are told to change the dressing on your incision, wash your hands before changing the dressing and after disposing of the dressing.

What can I do to help?

  • You will need to tell your healthcare team if you have new or worsening:
    • Dizziness
    • Fainting
    • Shortness of breath
    • Abdominal pain
    • Change in bowel habits, such as pain, mucus, diarrhea, constipation, or other intestinal problems
    • Heavy vaginal bleeding
    • Trouble emptying the bladder
    • Vaginal discharge with a bad odor or itching
    • Signs of infection around your surgical wound. These include:
      • The area around the wound is more red or painful
      • The wound area is very warm to touch
      • You have blood, pus, or other fluid coming from the wound area
      • You have a fever higher than 101.5° F (38.6° C)
      • You have chills or muscle aches
  • Ask questions about any medicine or treatment or information that you do not understand.

How long will I be in the hospital?

How long you stay in the hospital depends on many factors. The average amount of time to stay in the hospital with a uterine fibroid is 2 to 3 days.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Acute Care Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-04-30
Last reviewed: 2014-04-24
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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