Fibroids are usually diagnosed during a routine pelvic exam. The clinician can evaluate the size and shape of the uterus and surrounding pelvic structures by inserting two fingers of one hand into the vagina while palpating the patient's abdomen above the pubic bone with the other hand. During this exam, a uterus with fibroids often feels enlarged and/or irregularly shaped.
Imaging tests can also be useful in confirming the diagnosis or in evaluating profuse or prolonged menstrual flow. Ultrasound uses sound waves to create a picture of the uterus, either when a device is moved across the abdomen or inserted into the vagina. More sensitive tests can be useful for detecting fibroids within the cavity of the uterus, which are frequently missed by traditional ultrasound. Other tests that might be necessary include:
Hysterosonography. This test is a variation on a vaginal ultrasound that provides a clearer picture of what's going on inside the uterine cavity. The ultrasound is performed after a catheter is threaded through the cervix to inject sterile saline solution.
Hysterosalpingography. The uterine cavity is visualized on X-ray after a dye has been injected that highlights the uterine cavity and fallopian tubes.
Hysteroscopy. This test allows direct visualization of the uterine cavity via a small camera attached to the end of a long tube (hysteroscope) that's inserted though the vagina and cervix.
Laparoscopy. The laparoscope, which is similar to a hysteroscope, is inserted through a small incision in the navel, allowing direct visualization of the outside of the uterus and the surrounding pelvic structures.
Last reviewed on 1/29/10
U.S. News's featured content providers were not involved in the selection of advertisers appearing on this website, and the placement of such advertisement in no way implies that these content providers endorse the products and services advertised. Disclaimer and a note about your health.