Fibroids are benign (non-cancerous) growths that originate from the wall of a woman's uterus. Other names for fibroids include leiomyoma (lie-o-my-o-ma), myoma, or fibromyoma. These growths, or tumors, vary widely in size and shape. They may be as small as a chestnut or as large as a cantaloupe. Fibroids can even be large enough to cause a woman's uterus to expand to the size it would be at 4 to 5 months of pregnancy. Fibroids are extremely vascular, which means that they have a great deal of blood flowing to them. Without this blood flow a fibroid cannot survive.
The uterus has multiple layers. These layers are depicted in figure 1. Fibroids originate from the myometrium (my-o-me-tree-um) and grow to involve the different uterine layers. The exact location of a fibroid is an important determinant of the symptoms it may produce. Location will also help determine the appropriate treatment for symptomatic fibroids. Fibroids are assigned names based on layer of the uterus that they primarily involve:
Fibroid Q&A: Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment
Information in this section is provided by Rhode Island Hospital's department of radiology, which offers a complete range of diagnostic and interventional procedures for women, including uterine artery embolization, a leading treatment for fibroid tumors.
| Women's Health