After experiencing a bulging belly, severe abdominal pain, heavy menstrual flow, fainting spells and a haemoglobin level of 3.4 mg/dl, 38-year-old Niharika Pandey (name changed) from Pune realised that something was seriously wrong with her than just a minor gynaecological issue. Worried that her exercise regime and over-the-counter medication had done her more harm than good, she consulted a specialist and was diagnosed with fibrosis. Not the ordinary kind but a tumour the size of a full-term baby!
A team led by Dr Preethika Shetty, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Motherhood Hospitals, Kharadi, in Pune surgically removed a giant fibroid weighing 5.6 kg, equivalent to a baby. “On arrival, we found that she had had a history of menorrhagia (abnormally heavy or prolonged bleeding) and anaemia for a year. She had irregular bleeding with cramps. Her stomach was so big that it looked like she was carrying a 36-week unborn baby inside her.
An ultrasound examination showed the presence of a huge fibroid that had damaged her uterus. Uterine fibroids are mainly non-cancerous tumours and affect women belonging to the reproductive age. These fibroids are also called leiomyomas or myomas and do not manifest symptoms. But not many women are aware of this and neglect the condition till it becomes unbearable,” the doctor said.
Dr Shetty added that the patient’s condition had worsened with one of her kidneys under pressure due to the large fibroid. “It was very difficult for us to reconstruct her urine tubes and uterus. So, we had to secure dilated ureters by a procedure called D J stenting (the procedure to place a thin, flexible plastic tube that is temporarily in the ureter to help urine drain from the kidney into the bladder in case of a blockage) and with due consent from the patient, we had to remove her uterus (open hysterectomy). The surgery went for two hours, and she was discharged post-surgery after 50 hours. Not treating her at the right time could have caused more complications like anaemia, which can cause exhaustion and lethargy. In severe cases, heart problems can result from anaemia,” she said.
After the surgery, Pandey has resumed her daily routine without any complications or difficulty.
Cases of fibroids among women have increased over the last three decades. The causative factors are later marriages, later and fewer pregnancies. Women should opt for regular gynaecological check-ups to spot any abnormalities related to the uterus. Fibroids are undetected until they start showing symptoms.
Signs like heavy bleeding during menstruation, pelvic pain, frequent urination, rectum pain, constipation, bloating, periods lasting more than eight days and blood clots can indicate the presence of fibroids. Most women may get stressed and anxious, thinking fibroids can cause cancer. If left untreated, fibroids can lead to miscarriage, infertility (as it disrupts the fertilization process), pregnancy complications such as placental abruption and preterm labour, and a caesarean section. Women shouldn’t take these symptoms lightly and come forward for routine checks with their gynaecologists,” said Dr Karishma Dafle, Fertility Consultant, Nova IVF Fertility, Pune.