Uterine Fibroid Embolization
Uterine fibroids are a problem for many women during their reproductive years.
Although uterine fibroids are benign (noncancerous), these growths in the uterus can still cause regularly disruptive signs and symptoms, such as heavy menstrual bleeding and significant pelvic pain. The symptoms you experience will depend on the number, size, and location of the fibroids in your uterus. When you no longer wish to put up with these symptoms, it’s time to seek medical treatment, and your choices may run the gamut from medication to surgery.
For women who wish to avoid surgery for uterine fibroids – there is a better option: a minimally invasive procedure called uterine fibroid embolization, or UFE.
What is a UFE?
Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) involves blocking the blood supply to the fibroids, which shrinks them. This relieves symptoms the growths may be causing, such as heavy bleeding and pelvic pain.
UFE, also sometimes called uterine artery embolization (UAE), is the preferred alternative to hysterectomy for women with uterine fibroids causing problematic symptoms. That’s because a hysterectomy – the surgical removal of the uterus – is the only guaranteed way to be rid of uterine fibroids once and for all. However, a hysterectomy is just not a practical choice for many women in their childbearing years.
Shrinking the fibroids during a UFE is a safe, effective, and reliable treatment for uterine fibroids. More than 90% of women who undergo UFE experience successful relief of their symptoms, such as heavy bleeding, bloating, and pain – with just a single outpatient treatment.
How a UFE is Performed
Like many of the minimally invasive interventional treatments we provide, uterine fibroid embolization is performed on an outpatient basis in a fully equipped surgery suite at Florida Endovascular and Interventional.
UAE is most often performed using X-ray guidance, while a patient is sedated. A catheter is threaded through the femoral artery at the top of your leg into the uterine arteries. Once the catheter is in place, contrast dye is injected to help the doctor visualize the arteries. Then, medicine and/or tiny particles the size of a grain of salt are injected into the arteries to block blood flow. Without sufficient oxygenated blood, the fibroids will shrink and die.
The procedure lasts less than an hour.
What to Expect After a UFE
You may experience cramping and pain for a few days after a UFE, as the fibroids begin to wither away. The remaining fibroid tissue is naturally absorbed by the body over time. Your doctor may prescribe painkillers and anti-inflammatories for a brief period after the procedure. In most cases, you will be able to resume your normal activities within 7-10 days.
Benefits of a Minimally Invasive UFE
Because we access the fibroids in your uterus using the least invasive method possible, via your bloodstream, no large abdominal incisions are necessary. This also allows you to avoid the high cost and hassle of a hospital stay. Additionally, as is the case with most minimally invasive procedures, you avoid the post-op pain, scarring, and risks typically associated with open or laparoscopic surgery and hospitalization. Best of all, your uterus is preserved.
Many women with uterine fibroids are good candidates for a UFE. The number, size, or location of your fibroids are not typically an obstacle to having this procedure.
Minimally Invasive Treatment for Uterine Fibroids in South Florida
If you have uterine fibroids that are causing bothersome symptoms, ask your doctor if a minimally invasive uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) is right for you. The interventional radiologists at Florida Endovascular and Interventional have the training and experience necessary to conduct a UFE tailored to your unique situation, based on the number, size, and location of your fibroids.