Uterine Fibroid Embolization
You don’t have to live with the heavy menstrual bleeding, pelvic pain, urinary incontinence and frequency caused by uterine fibroid tumors. You also don’t need to live with the unintended consequences of hysterectomy. We treat painful uterine fibroids through a non-surgical procedure called Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE).
What You Need To Know
The cause of uterine fibroids is not well understood, although they are more common in women of reproductive age. Other risk factors include:
- A family history of fibroids
- Early onset of puberty
For many women, symptoms of uterine fibroids include:
- Significant bleeding
- Pelvic pain and pressure
- Increased urination frequency
- Discomfort during sexual intercourse
- Backache or leg pain
While uterine fibroids can often be controlled through diet, exercise and medication, severe symptoms often require surgical options like a hysterectomy (removal of uterus) or myomectomy (removal of the tumors). While these options are generally effective at treating the fibroid symptoms, they often result in a new set of problems.
Risks associated with hysterectomy:
- Requires general anesthesia
- Results in lengthy recovery
- Presents higher complication rates than uterine fibroid embolization
- 15-30% of women report decreased sexual function and increased rates of depression after having a hysterectomy
- Incidence of cardiovascular disease increases (up to 3 times)
- Increased chance of developing pelvic floor problems including incontinence
Advantages of UFE
- Minimally-invasive treatment option
- Outpatient procedure
- Greatly reduced recovery time (return home the same day; return to normal activities within one week)
- Safer than a hysterectomy
- No need to remove uterus
- Covered by most insurance plans
Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) is a minimally invasive, non-surgical procedure that cuts off the blood supply to the fibroid. When the fibroid no longer has blood to nourish it, it begins to soften and eventually shrinks on its own. Many women experience significant symptom relief when this happens. UFE requires only a local anesthesia and a mild sedative, so it can be performed in an outpatient setting. That means no incisions, no general anesthesia and a much shorter recovery time compared with surgical treatments like hysterectomy.
What To Expect
Once we work with you to determine a treatment plan, one of our vascular staff or interventional radiologists will review any pre- and post-instructions for your procedure. You will be walked through your procedure so you know exactly what to expect. If you have questions, at any time, please ask. We want you to feel informed every step of the way.
If you’ve been told you have uterine fibroids, you’re probably weighing your treatment options. Here are a few questions you’ll want to ask yourself:
- Do I want to have children in the future?
- Do I want to avoid taking hormones or going through early menopause?
- Am I worried about complications, such as pain or infection, from a major surgery?
- Would I prefer a minimally invasive treatment rather than having major surgery?
- Would I prefer a shorter recovery time?
If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions then a UFE procedure may be the best option for you.