Uterine Fibroid Embolization

What is Uterine Fibroid Embolization?

Uterine Fibroid Embolization (also known as Uterine Artery Embolization) is a new way of treating fibroid tumors.  It is a minimally invasive procedure that blocks the arteries that supply blood to the fibroids.  The blockage of the blood supply causes degeneration of the fibroids and a resolution of symptoms.

What will the procedure be like?

Uterine Fibroid Embolization is done in the hospital with an overnight stay after the procedure. You will be sedated and very sleepy during the procedure.

After being sedated you will be given a local anesthetic to numb the skin at the groin.  The Interventional Radiologist will make a small nick in the skin and thread a thin tube into the femoral artery.  With x-ray guidance and periodic injections of radiographic contrast material to map the blood vessels, the catheter is threaded into the uterine artery.  Particles of polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) are injected into the uterine artery and blood flow to the fibroids is blocked.  Because fibroids are very vascular, the particles flow to the fibroids and cannot travel to other parts of the body.  Once one side is completed, embolization is performed on the other side.  The procedure takes approximately 60-90 minutes.

How do I prepare for the procedure?

A consultation will take place with an Interventional Radiologist to review your medical history and the procedure. Imaging of the uterus by MRI or ultrasound is performed to fully assess the size, number and location of the fibroids.

Please do not ingest food or liquid after midnight the day before the procedure. Regular medication can be taken with a small amount of water the morning of the procedure.

What can I expect after the procedure?

You may experience cramps for several days after Uterine Fibroid Embolization.  The cramps are most severe during the first 24 hours following the procedure.  Mild nausea and low-grade fever are possible.  Most patients can return to normal activities within one to two weeks.

Fibroids will shrink within two to three months.  Symptoms, such as pain and pressure, decrease as the fibroids shrink.  Heavy bleeding often improves during the first menstrual cycle following the procedure.

Am I a candidate for Uterine Fibroid Embolization?

Your primary care gynecological physician can help you determine if UFE is the best treatment option for you.

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