Uterine Fibroids Glossary Guide

By the age of 35, it is estimated 40% of Caucasian women and up to 60% of Black women will have uterine fibroids. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with uterine fibroids, you may want to learn more. This guide will help you better familiarize yourself with common medical terms encountered while researching fibroids and treatment options.

Patient Glossary of Terms

The glossary below provides definitions to some of the most common conditions related to uterine fibroids diagnosis and treatment. 

Abdominal Hysterectomy

An invasive surgical procedure in which the uterus is removed through an incision in the lower abdomen.

Ablation

A surgical treatment using heat, radiofrequency, or fluids to treat abnormal bleeding. Endometrial ablation is a procedure to remove a thin layer of tissue (endometrium) lining the uterus to stop or reduce heavy bleeding during menstruation.

Acessa Procedure

A minimally invasive, outpatient laparoscopic procedure using controlled radiofrequency energy, heat, to cause coagulative necrosis of the fibroid tissue, therefore shrinking fibroids over time.

Adenomyosis

A condition in which endometrial tissue (inner lining of the uterus) grows into the muscular uterine wall.

Anemia

Anemia  is condition in which there are not enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen through the body.

Anesthesia

A medicine administered to patients to eliminate or reduce pain during medical procedures.

Asymptomatic

A patient does not present symptoms or signs of a disease.

Benign

The opposite of cancerous. A benign tumor does not spread to other parts of the body.

Catheter

A soft hollow tube that is used to drain/add fluids or medicines from/into the patient.

Cervix

The narrow, lower end of the uterus that joins to the top of the vagina.

Dysmenorrhea

Discomfort and pain during the menstrual period.

Embolization

A minimally invasive, outpatient procedure that intentionally blocks blood flow in small veins or arteries.

Embosphere

Embosphere Microsphere is an embolic material used during Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE).

Endometriosis

A painful condition in which tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside the uterus, usually in the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and other pelvic structures.

Endometrial Biopsy

The removal of a small piece of tissue from the lining of the uterus. Usually performed in the doctor’s office and the tissue is examined for any cell abnormalities.

Endometrium

The mucous membrane lining of the uterus that sheds each month during a menstrual period.

Estrogen

A female hormone produced by the ovaries that primarily regulates the growth development and function of the reproductive system. Estrogen is produced from the onset of puberty until menopause. The three main types of Estrogen: Estradiol (E2) common type in women of childbearing age, Estriol (E3) the main estrogen during pregnancy, and Estrone (E1) the only estrogen your body makes after menopause.

Femoral Artery

Located in the thigh, it is the second largest artery in the body. The primary function of the femoral artery is to supply blood to the lower section of the body.

Fertility

The ability to become pregnant and give birth to children.

Fibroid Tumor

Fibroid tumors are made of smooth muscle cells and fibrous connective tissue. They develop in the uterus and are almost always benign or noncancerous. Fibroids can cause numerous symptoms including pain and abnormal bleeding.

Gynecologist

gynecologist is a doctor who specializes in the medical care of women and in the health of the female reproductive system.

Hysterectomy

The surgical removal of the uterus. It may involve the removal of the cervix, ovaries, fallopian tubes and other surrounding structures. Hysterectomy ends menstruation and fertility. In a total hysterectomy, the uterus and cervix are removed. In a hysterectomy that does not involve removal of the ovaries, ovaries may continue to produce hormones up until the normal time when menopause would normally occur.

Hysterectomy and Bilateral Salpingo-oophorectomy (BSO)

The surgical removal of the uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes, and ovaries.

Hysterosalpingography (HSG)

An X-ray procedure in which a small quantity of liquid contrast is injected into the uterus and fallopian tubes. It is used to detect any blockages or any abnormal changes in their size and shape.

Hysteroscopic

A vaginal approach utilizing a small camera called a hysteroscope to visualize and perform procedures inside the uterine cavity.

Hysteroscopic Myomectomy

An outpatient surgical procedure utilizing a hysteroscope. The hysteroscope is placed through the cervix into the uterine cavity and small instruments are used to remove peduculated and submucosal fibroids without removing the healthy tissue of the uterus.

Hysteroscopy

The visual inspection of the cervical canal and uterus with a scope, enabling the physician to identify potential causes of abnormal bleeding.

Hysterosonography

Also known as Sonohysterography or Saline Infusion Sonography (SIS), is a non-invasive technique that involves the slow infusion of sterile saline solution into a woman’s uterus during an ultrasound imaging exam.

Interventional Radiologist

specialized physician who uses minimally invasive, image guided methods (x-ray technology) to diagnose and treat diseases with minimized risks to patients and improved patient outcomes.

Intramural Fibroids

A non-cancerous tumor that grows within the muscular walls of the uterus.

Intrauterine Device (IUD)

A small T-shaped piece of plastic or metal birth control device that is placed and left inside a woman’s uterus (or womb) to prevent pregnancy and control bleeding symptoms. IUDs are one form of long-acting reversible birth control. The FDA has five approved IUDs (LARC-long-acting reversible contraception): Mirena, Liletta, Kyleena, Skyla, and ParaGard.

IUI

Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a type of fertility treatment. A procedure in which a fine catheter (tube) is inserted through the cervix into the uterus to deposit sperm around the time of ovulation with the goal of getting more healthy sperm closer to the egg.

IVF

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is an infertility treatment that involves removing eggs from a woman’s ovaries and fertilizing them outside her body. The resulting embryos are then transferred into the woman’s uterus through the cervix.

Laparoscopic Hysterectomy

A minimally invasive surgical procedure performed with the aid of a laparoscope. A small incision is made in the belly button and a tiny camera is inserted. The surgeon watches the image from this camera on a TV screen and performs the operative procedure. Two or three other tiny incisions are made in the lower abdomen. Specialized instruments are inserted and used for the removal of the uterus and cervix.

Laparoscopy

A minimally invasive surgical procedure in which small incisions are made and a thin, fiber-optic camera called a laparoscope is inserted along with probes or instruments through small incisions in the abdomen. This allows for a number of surgical procedures to be performed without a large surgical incision.

Leiomyoma

A benign tumor consisting of smooth muscle fibers in or on the uterus. Also called uterine fibroid or myoma.

Malignant

A malignant tumor contains cancerous cells. Malignancies can spread, destroying nearby tissues. There is still a chance of recurrence after removal.

Medicated IUD

A medicated intrauterine device (IUD) contains hormones. The small ‘T- shaped’ device is inserted into the uterus through the cervix to prevent conception. The addition of hormones can benefit some women by treating heavy periods.

Menopause

The time when a woman’s menstrual periods stop permanently. Menopause is confirmed when a woman has not had her period for 12 consecutive months.

Menorrhagia

Excessive uterine bleeding during menstruation.

Minimally Invasive

A medical treatment or procedure that is done using only small incisions and few, if any, stitches. Healing and recovery are faster with less trauma to the body.

MRI

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a non-invasive imaging method using magnetic fields and radio waves to obtain detailed images of the organs and tissues in the body.

Myoma or Uterine Myoma

A benign tumor made of muscle tissue that is found in the uterus. Also called leiomyoma or uterine fibroid.

Myomectomy

A surgical procedure to remove fibroids from the uterus. Myomectomy is also done to reduce abnormal uterine bleeding caused by fibroids. This is the preferred procedure for women who want to remain fertile after fibroid treatment.

Outpatient Procedure

Also called same-day, ambulatory, or office-based surgery, in which a patient is not hospitalized overnight but visits a hospital, clinic, or associated facility for diagnosis or treatment.

Pedunculated Fibroids

Fibroids growing on or attached to the uterus by a narrow stalk-like growth called a peduncle.

Progesterone

A female reproductive hormone produced by the ovaries and placenta. It plays an important role in maintaining pregnancy, preparing the body for fertilization, and regulating the monthly menstrual cycle.

Radial Artery 

The large blood vessel that provides oxygenated blood to the lateral aspect of the forearm, wrist, and hand.

Minimally invasive Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE), an innovative procedure to treat uterine fibroids, utilizes the radial artery in the wrist to reach the uterus.

Radical Hysterectomy

A surgical procedure used to treat endometrial or cervical cancer that involves removing the uterus, cervix, tissue around the cervix and the upper part of the vagina. In a radical hysterectomy that removes ovaries, women will experience menopause after the operation, regardless of age. This is called surgical menopause.

Robotic or Robot-assisted

A surgery performed through very small incisions using tools attached to a robotic arm. The robot is controlled by the surgeon through a console with finger and foot controls. This gives the surgeon a high-definition, magnified, 3-D view which improves accuracy and precision while guiding the articulated instruments in the procedure.

Submucosal Fibroids

The least common type of fibroid, submucosal fibroids develop underneath the uterine lining within the uterine cavity, causing excessive and prolonged menstrual bleeding.

Subserosal Fibroids

The most common type of fibroid, subserosal fibroids develop in the outer portion of the uterus and continue to grow outward.

Subtotal Hysterectomy or Partial Hysterectomy or Supracervial Hysterectomy

A surgical procedure that removes the uterus but leaves the cervix in place.

Total Hysterectomy

A surgical procedure that completely removes both the uterus and cervix. In a total hysterectomy that removes ovaries, women will experience menopause after the operation, regardless of age. This is called surgical menopause.

Transvaginal Ultrasound or Endovaginal Ultrasound

An ultrasound probe is inserted into the vagina to examine and generate images of the reproductive organs including the uterus, ovaries, and cervix.

Uterine Fibroids

Also called leiomyomas or myomas, uterine fibroids are benign tumors of the uterus. In some women they cause painful symptoms and/or heavy periods. Read more.

Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE)

A minimally invasive outpatient procedure performed by an interventional radiologist that blocks blood flow to fibroids, causing them to shrink and die. Read more.

Uterus

A hollow, pear-shaped reproductive organ located in a woman’s lower abdomen where fetuses are conceived and gestate before birth. Also called the womb.

Vaginal Hysterectomy

A surgical procedure to remove the uterus through the vagina. Recovery time from a vaginal hysterectomy is typically 4 to 6 weeks.

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