FIBROID
FIBROSITIS
fibroid
A slow-growing, noncancerous
tumour of the
uterus
,
consisting of
smooth muscle and
connective tissue
.
There may be 1
or more fibroids, and
they may be as small as a pea or as
large as a grapefruit.
Fibroids are common, appearing most
often in women aged 35 to 45. The
cause is thought to be related to an
abnormal response to
oestrogen hor-
mones
.
Oral contraceptives
containing
oestrogen can cause fibroids to enlarge,
as can
pregnancy
. Decreased oestrogen
production after the
menopause
usually
causes them to shrink.
In many cases, there are no symptoms.
If a fibroid enlarges and projects into
the cavity of the uterus, it may cause
heavy or prolonged periods. A large
fibroid may exert pressure on the blad-
der, causing frequent passing of urine,
or on the bowel, causing backache or
constipation. Fibroids that distort the
uterine cavity may be responsible for
recurrent miscarriage or infertility.
Fibroids that do not cause symptoms
are often discovered during a routine
pelvic examination.
Ultrasound scanning
can confirm the diagnosis. Small, symp-
tomless fibroids usually require no
treatment, but regular examinations may
be needed to assess growth. Surgery is
required for fibroids that cause serious
symptoms. In some cases, they can be
removed with a
hysteroscope
or under
general
anaesthesia
, leaving the uterus
intact. Sometimes, however, a
hysterec-
tomy
is necessary.
fibroma
A noncancerous tumour of the
cells that make up
connective tissue
. For
example, a neurofibroma is a tumour of
the cells that surround nerve fibres (see
neurofibromatosis
). Treatment is neces-
sary only if the tumour causes symptoms.
fibromyalgia
A poorly understood dis-
order causing generalized aching and
stiffness of the muscles of the trunk,
hips, and shoulders. Parts of the affec-
ted muscles (known as trigger points)
are tender to the touch; common tender
sites are the base of the skull and the
muscles near the shoulderblades. Fibro-
myalgia
commonly
develops
during
periods of stress and may follow a
chronic course. Treatment may consist
of heat, massage, and drugs such as
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
and,
sometimes,
antidepressant drugs
, which
may relieve the symptoms.
fibrosarcoma
A rare, cancerous tumour
of the cells that make up
connective tis-
sue
. A fibrosarcoma may develop from a
noncancerous
fibroma
or may be can-
cerous from the start. Treatment is by
surgical removal and/or
radiotherapy
.
fibrosing alveolitis
Inflammation and
thickening of the walls of the alveoli in
the lungs (see
alveolus, pulmonary
) that
results in scarring of lung tissue (see
interstitial pulmonary fibrosis
). Fibrosing
alveolitis most commonly occurs in peo-
ple over 60 and is more common in men.
In some cases, fibrosing alveolitis is
due to an
autoimmune disorder
and may
be associated with conditions such as
rheumatoid arthritis
or
systemic lupus
erethematosus
. Other possible causes
include radiotherapy of the organs in the
chest and
anticancer drug
treatment. In
many cases, however, the cause is un-
known, and the condition is then known
as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.
Symptoms of fibrosing alveolitis in-
clude shortness of breath, a persistent
dry cough, and joint pains.
Treatment of the condition involves
corticosteroid drugs
combined with other
immunosuppressant drugs
to slow the
progress of lung damage.
fibrosis
An overgrowth of scar tissue
or
connective tissue
. Fibrous tissue may
be formed as an exaggerated healing
response to infection, inflammation, or
injury. Fibrosis can also result from a
lack of oxygen in a tissue, usually due to
inadequate blood flow through it (in
heart muscle damaged by a
myocardial
infarction
, for example). In fibrosis, spe-
cialized structures (such as kidney or
muscle cells) are replaced by fibrous
tissue, which causes impaired function
of the organ concerned.
fibrositis
Pain and stiffness in the mus-
cles. Because investigation usually fails
to reveal any underlying cause, some
doctors do not recognize fibrositis as a
medical condition. However, tension
and bad posture may contribute. Some-
times, an attack occurs after an infection
or a new exercise.
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