Kidney Damage and Other Lesser-Known Risks of Fibroids
Large Fibroids Can Create Collateral Damage to Delicate Structures in the Pelvis
Women with fibroids have many options to consider for treatment, and many physicians suggest the ill-advised “watch and wait” method, ignoring symptoms until obvious signs of problems appear. But there are lesser-known risks of fibroids that can occur without always experiencing heavy bleeding or pelvic pain. As fibroids grow, they increase the likelihood of short-term, long-term or permanent damage.
Fibroids Can Damage Kidneys and Circulation
“Fibroids can disrupt the delicate balance of the important structures in the pelvis,” said Dr. Natalya Danilyants. “These structures help the body to function, creating an important transport system. The ureter leads from the kidney to the bladder to remove urine from the body. The veins keep blood circulating. It is important for women who have large fibroids to talk to a fibroids specialist about the safest way to remove them based on future plans for fertility.”
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Lesser-Known Risks of Fibroids
- Pressure on the urinary tract can cause either a need to urinate frequently or, conversely, create a blockage that limits evacuation of the bladder. Pressure on the ureters — the tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder — can cause distention and hydronephrosis (dilation of the kidneys), which can lead to permanent damage.
- Pressure on veins can cause varicosities, leg edema/swelling and dangerous blood clots that can travel to the lungs, creating a pulmonary embolism, which can be fatal.
These problems are more likely with large fibroids but can be caused by smaller fibroids depending on their location. Women diagnosed with these problems need to have the fibroids removed immediately.
The more common symptoms of uterine fibroids include heavy and/or prolonged bleeding (more than eight days), pelvic pain, abdominal bloating and infertility. These symptoms are more easily recognized and are typically the reason women initially seek treatment.
The Watch & Wait Method for Fibroids Doesn’t Work
Damage to the uterus is a major concern for women with fibroids who still wish to retain fertility. As fibroids grow — and they likely will — they change the normal structure of the uterus. In cases of numerous or extremely large fibroids, even removal of the fibroids may not reverse the damage, and pregnancy may never be achieved.
Having fibroids removed does not have to mean an invasive surgery with a large open incision or a procedure with a robot. These surgeries are high risk and more expensive, with relatively long recovery times. It is important to do your research and find a minimally invasive GYN surgeon who can remove fibroids laparoscopically without the use of a power morcellator, which has been shown to spread undetected cancer cells in the pelvic cavity.
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LAAM Fibroid Removal Surgery
Modern minimally invasive fibroid removal procedures at The Center for Innovative GYN Care are safer than open or robotic surgeries. Laparoscopic assisted abdominal myomectomy, or LAAM, pairs the thoroughness of an open procedure with the faster recovery of a standard laparoscopy for a safe, effective surgery. Using just two small incisions, one at the belly button and one at the bikini line, the minimally invasive GYN specialists at CIGC are able to remove all fibroids, no matter the size, number or location. The uterus is then repaired by hand. This makes it possible for women who wish to maintain fertility to carry a baby to term.
“LAAM is a great surgery for women who want to maintain fertility,” Dr. Danilyants said. “Patients have a better recovery, and because we can feel all of the fibroids, we are able to remove all of them, large or small. Recovery is two weeks or less, and many patients return to work in 10 days. Other non-CIGC procedures can take up to two months to recover from. Down time can be an important factor in choosing to have or delay surgery. With so little down time, women do not have to put off having this procedure.”
When choosing which procedure to have, it’s important to find a highly skilled minimally invasive GYN surgical specialist for the best possible outcome.
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GYN surgical specialists can often see women sooner than a standard OBGYN because they are focused entirely on surgery. Each patient gets detailed, in-depth attention from Dr. Natalya Danilyants and Dr. Paul MacKoul. This personalized care helps patients understand their condition and the recommended treatment so they can have confidence from the very start. Our surgeons have performed over 25,000 GYN procedures and are constantly finding ways to improve outcomes for patients.
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Even if you are not from the D.C. area, many patients travel to The Center for Innovative GYN Care for our groundbreaking procedures. We treat women from around the world who suffer from complex GYN conditions.
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