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The management of uterine leiomyomas.

OBJECTIVE: The objective of this document is to serve as a guideline to the investigation and management of uterine leiomyomas.

OPTIONS: The areas of clinical practice considered in formulating this guideline are assessment, medical treatments, conservative treatments of myolysis, selective artery occlusion, and surgical alternatives including myomectomy and hysterectomy. The risk-to-benefit ratio must be examined individually by the woman and her health-care provider.

OUTCOMES: Implementation of this guideline should optimize the decision-making process of women and their health-care providers in proceeding with further investigation or therapy for uterine leiomyomas, having considered the disease process and available treatment options, and reviewed the risks and anticipated benefits.

EVIDENCE: English-language articles from MEDLINE, PubMed, and the Cochrane Database were reviewed from 1992 to 2002, using the key words "leiomyoma," "fibroid," "uterine artery embolization," "uterine artery occlusion," "uterine leiomyosarcoma," and "myomectomy." The level of evidence has been determined using the criteria described by the Canadian Task Force on the Periodic Health Examination.

BENEFITS, HARMS, AND COSTS: The majority of fibroids are asymptomatic and will not require intervention or further investigations. For the symptomatic fibroid, hysterectomy offers a definitive solution. However, it is not the preferred solution for women who wish to preserve their uterus. The predicted benefits of alternative therapies must be carefully weighed against the possible risks of these therapies. In the properly selected woman with symptomatic fibroids, the result from the selected treatment should be an improvement in the quality of life. The cost of the therapy to the health-care system and to women with fibroids must be interpreted in the context of the cost of untreated disease conditions and the cost of ongoing or repeat treatment modalities.

RECOMMENDATIONS: 1. Medical management should be tailored to the needs of the woman presenting with uterine fibroids and geared to alleviating the symptoms. Cost and side effects of medical therapies may limit their long-term use. (III-C) 2. In women who do not wish to preserve fertility and who have been counselled regarding the alternatives and risks, hysterectomy may be offered as the definitive treatment for symptomatic uterine fibroids and is associated with a high level of satisfaction. (II-A) 3. Myomectomy is an option for women who wish to preserve their uterus, but women should be counselled regarding the risk of requiring further intervention. (II-B) 4. Hysteroscopic myomectomy should be considered as first-line conservative surgical therapy for the management of symptomatic intracavitary fibroids. (I-B) 5. It is important to monitor ongoing fluid balance carefully during hysteroscopic removal of fibroids. (I-B) 6. Laparoscopic myolysis may present an alternative to myomectomy or hysterectomy for selected women with symptomatic intramural or subserous fibroids who wish to preserve their uterus but do not desire future fertility. (II-B) 7. Uterine artery occlusion may be offered as an alternative to selected women with symptomatic uterine fibroids who wish to preserve their uterus. (I-C) 8. Women choosing uterine artery occlusion for the treatment of fibroids should be counselled regarding possible risks, and that long-term data regarding efficacy, fecundity, pregnancy outcomes, and patient satisfaction are lacking. (III-C) 9. Removal of fibroids that distort the uterine cavity may be indicated in infertile women, where no other factors have been identified, and in women about to undergo in vitro fertilization treatment. (III-C) 10. Concern of possible complications related to fibroids in pregnancy is not an indication for myomectomy, except in women who have experienced a previous pregnancy with complications related to these fibroids. (III-C) 11. Women who have fibroids detected in pregnancy may require additional fetal surveillance when the placenta is implanted over or in close proximity to hen the placenta is implanted over or in close proximity to a fibroid. (III-C) 12. In women who present with acute hemorrhage related to uterine fibroids, conservative management consisting of estrogens, hysteroscopy, or dilatation and curettage may be considered, but hysterectomy may become necessary in some cases. (III-C) 13. Hormone replacement therapy may cause myoma growth in postmenopausal women, but it does not appear to cause clinical symptoms. Postmenopausal bleeding and pain in women with fibroids should be investigated in the same way as in women without fibroids. (II-B) 14. There is currently no evidence to substantiate performing a hysterectomy for an asymptomatic leiomyoma for the sole purpose of alleviating the concern that it may be malignant. (III-C) VALIDATION: This guideline was reviewed and accepted by the Clinical Practice Gynaecology Committee, and by Executive and Council of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada.

SPONSOR: The Society for Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada.

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