Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) or Uterine Artery Embolization (UAE) has proven successful in significantly decreasing or eliminating fibroid related symptoms of bleeding, pressure and pain in women with uterine fibroids and adenymyosis.
Uterine Fibroid Embolization is a minimally-invasive alternative to surgery for women who are having symptoms from fibroids and adenymyosis. This procedure preserves the uterus as an outpatient procedure.
This treatment is performed by an Interventional Radiologist (IR). An Interventional Radiologist is a medical doctor who has specialized experience in diagnostic and vascular imaging, which is used to guide therapeutic procedures. The IR physician uses imaging to guide a small catheter into the arteries supplying the fibroids and administers small particles called microspheres. The microspheres block the vessels to the fibroids, depriving them of the blood they need. The fibroids and the uterus then decrease in size.
Uterine Fibroid Embolization is an outpatient procedure which takes one to two hours. Patients can choose to either go home or stay overnight for recovery. The procedure does not require general anesthesia and recovery time is significantly reduced compared with surgical alternatives. This procedure is FDA approved for women with symptomatic fibroids and adenomyosis.
The entire fibroid treatment typically lasts one to two hours, and is performed as an outpatient therapy. Patients can go home the say day or choose to stay overnight for a quick outpatient recovery. The uterine fibroid embolization procedure begins with a tiny nick in the wrist or the groin. Using specialized X-ray equipment, the doctor passes a catheter (small tube) to the uterine arteries. When the doctor has reached the proper location in the uterus, microspheres (small spheres) are injected through the catheter and into the blood flow leading to the uterine fibroids.
Once the Interventional Radiologist has completed embolization of the uterine arteries, the catheter is gently removed. Pressure is applied to the puncture site to prevent bleeding and then a small bandage is placed. Once the procedure is complete, you may experience some discomfort such as abdominal cramping or pain. You and your doctor will determine what medications may be needed to keep you comfortable.
On average, 85-90 percent of women who have had the procedure experience significant or total relief of heavy bleeding, pain and/or bulk-related symptoms. The procedure is especially effective for multiple fibroids and large fibroids. Recurrence of the treated fibroids is very rare.
Your physician will determine if your fibroids are suitable for treatment. Uterine Fibroid Embolization can be used for submucosal, subserosal, and intramural uterine fibroids. These are terms that are used to describe the location of the fibroid within the uterus. Multiple fibroid can be treated in one session. Adenomyosis can be treated as well.
Although this treatment may be successful in destroying the fibroids causing painful symptoms, at a later time, new fibroids may grow, become symptomatic and require additional treatment. This is true for all fibroid treatments, except hysterectomy where the entire uterus is removed. However, since fibroids grow very slowly, repeat treatments are usually not required.