What are uterine fibroids?

Fibroids are non-cancerous (benign), tumours that grow in the uterus (womb). They can vary in size and location and in many cases go unnoticed and are asymptomatic. They most commonly lie in the wall of the uterus (intramural fibroids) but may also protrude outside the uterus or into the cavity of the uterus.

What are the symptoms of uterine fibroids?

While fibroids do not always cause symptoms to the patient, their size and location in the uterus can lead to problems for some women including:

  • Swelling or discomfort in the abdomen
  • Painful,  heavy and prolonged bleeding
  • Constipation
  • Frequent urination

What investigations are made to identify uterine fibroids? 

An ultrasound is usually the most common investigation following a clinical examination by a general practitioner or gynaecologist. 

If MR guided Focused Ultrasound (MRgFUS) or uterine artery embolisation are considered to be treatment options available to the patient, an MRI scan is usually necessary.  The MRI scan provides much more information to the physician about the actual location of the fibroid and the proximity to the uterine cavity or wall of the uterus. 

It will also confirm if the fibroid is pedunculated (A less common type of fibroid that hangs from a stalk outside of the uterine wall) which can be difficult to measure from an ultrasound scan.  The MRI scan can also give useful information about the vascularity or blood supply of the uterus. 

Finally, an MRI scan is able to detect the presence of multiple, smaller fibroids that may exist in addition to larger ones that may have already been diagnosed following an ultrasound.