How are uterine fibroids diagnosed?

Unless you have symptoms, you probably won’t know that you have uterine fibroids.

Sometimes, health care providers find fibroids during a routine gynecological exam. During this exam, the health care provider checks the size of your uterus by putting two fingers of one hand into the vagina while using the other hand to press lightly on your abdomen. If you have fibroids, your uterus may feel larger than normal or it may feel irregularly shaped. But even small fibroids in the uterus may cause considerable symptoms and heavy periods leading to anemia. Smaller fibroids which can’t be found through a routine manual examination can be detected with ultrasound.

If your health care provider thinks you have fibroids, he or she may use one or more types of imaging technology—machines that create a picture of the inside of your body—to confirm the diagnosis.

Some common types of imaging technology are:

  • Ultrasound, which uses sound waves to form the picture
  • Saline infusion sonography, which uses an injection of salt solution into the uterus to help create the ultrasound image
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which uses magnets and radio waves to create the picture
  • X-­rays, which use a form of electromagnetic radiation to “see” into the body
  • Computed tomography (CT) or computer-assisted tomography (also called a “CAT” scan), which scans the body with X-rays from many angles to create a more complete picture

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