Roughly 20-50% of women have these growths in the uterus. Only a third are big enough for a doctor to discover them during a physical exam. Most are non-cancerous, posing no higher cancer risk.
Pedunculated fibroids are benign (noncancerous) growths in the uterus. These fibroids are attached to the uterine wall by a stalk-like growth called a peduncle. The main difference between pedunculated fibroids and other fibroids is the peduncle.
These fibroids can grow both inside and outside the uterus. Inside the uterus, this type of growth is called a pedunculated submucosal fibroid. Outside the uterus it’s called a pedunculated subserosal fibroid.
Doctors aren’t sure what causes pedunculated fibroids. It’s believed that hormones and heredity might be factors, so women with a family history of fibroids and pregnant women might be more at risk.
If women experience any discomfort from pedunculated fibroids, it’s usually mild. However, some women can have intense discomfort because of these growths.
Common symptoms include:
Pedunculated fibroids can also cause unexpected, sharp pains. This happens when the fibroid rotates on its stem and the movement interferes with blood flow to the fibroid.
Pedunculated fibroids are usually diagnosed the same way as other uterine fibroids:
- A woman may experience common fibroid symptoms.
- A doctor may feel fibroids during a pelvic exam.
- The fibroids may be detected via ultrasound.
If your doctor suspects you have fibroids, they might give you an ultrasound. A transvaginal ultrasound can reveal details about your fibroids including size, position and how many pedunculated fibroids you have.
Pedunculated fibroids are, for the most part, not treated. Your doctor will recommend treatment if you are experiencing pain or if you’re worried about getting pregnant or your current pregnancy.
Treatment options for all fibroids include:
- Hormone therapy. There are a number of therapies, like GnRH agonists, designed to lower the levels of estrogen. This treatment is designed to reduce the size of the fibroid.
- Hysterectomy. This is a surgery that removes the entire uterus.
- Myomectomy. A myomectomy is a surgical procedure that removes one or multiple fibroids.
- Uterine artery embolization. This procedure blocks the blood flow to the fibroid with a goal of shrinking or terminating it.
- Focused ultrasound surgery (FUS). This procedure attempts to destroy the fibroid with sound waves.
- Myolysis. This procedure shrinks the fibroid by blocking its blood flow with a heat source, such as a laser or an electric current. The procedure Acessa is an example of myolysis.
- Cryomyolysis. In this procedure, the fibroids are frozen.
- Endometrial ablation. This procedure uses hot fluids, radio waves, freezing (cryoablation), or microwaves to remove the uterine lining.
According to Stanford Children’s Health, between 20 and 50 percent of women have fibroids in their reproductive years. However, only about one-third of fibroids are big enough for a doctor to discover them during a physical exam. In more than 90 percent of fibroid cases, the tumors are benign (noncancerous) and pose no increased risk of uterine cancer.
If you have symptoms associated with fibroids, you should visit your doctor for an exam. If you are diagnosed with pedunculated fibroids or another type of fibroid, your doctor will recommend treatment options. Since fibroids are typically slow growing, after visiting your doctor, you will have time to learn more about the specifics of different treatments and to get a second opinion.