Uterine Fibroid Embolization: What & Why
Fibroids are generally benign muscular tumors which grow on the wall of the uterus. While Uterine Fibroids are most common in women in their late 30’s to early 50’s, not every woman is the same. Some women experience symptoms accompanying their fibroids, while others find it hard to live regular lives with them. Symptoms can include pain, heavy menstrual bleeding, enlarged abdomen, and frequent urination.
Some of the factors that can increase a woman’s risk of developing fibroids include:
- Age – Chances of developing fibroids increase during 30’s and continue through menopause.
- Ethnic Origin – African-American and Hispanic women have a greater likelihood developing fibroids.
- Obesity – Women who are overweight have a greater risk for developing fibroids than average weight women.
- Family History – Women with a family member who has/had fibroids have an increased likelihood of developing fibroids as well.
Understanding Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE)
Uterine fibroid embolization is a proven, non-surgical, minimally invasive procedure that is performed by an Interventional Radiologist. The entire fibroid treatment typically lasts less than one hour and is performed as an outpatient therapy. Patients should plan to stay at the office 2-4 hours after the procedure is complete. Local/Conscious sedation is used during the procedure, so the patient will remain awake, but will be calm and comfortable. The Interventional Radiologist will use X-ray/Image guidance to direct a very thin catheter to one or both uterine arteries to treat the fibroid(s). Access is gained either at the wrist or upper thigh. Tiny microspheres, the size of a grain of sand, are delivered through the catheter, into the vessels which in turn block the flow of blood to the fibroids, causing them to shrink and withdraw back into the wall of the uterus. Post procedure abdominal pain and cramping, similar to that with a menstrual period, is common. Some of the benefits of UFE include decreased bleeding, decreased pelvic pain/pressure and improved emotional and physical well-being.
Is UFE treatment right for you?
Candidates for UFE fit into one or more of the following categories:
- Women who wish to retain their uterus and are looking for alternatives to hysterectomy
- Women who do not desire surgery
- Women who may be poor surgical candidates; e.g. obesity, bleeding disorders, anemia
- Women who are not pregnant
Uterine Fibroid Embolization offers patients freedom from fibroid symptoms, while avoiding hospitalization, and lengthy recovery time.
As with any medical procedure, it is important to discuss risks and complications with a physician.