Uterine Fibroid Embolization
Relief from fibroid symptoms
Fibroid tumors of the uterus are very common. Most are benign, but they can range in size from a pea to a softball and can cause heavy menstrual bleeding, pain, and pressure on the bladder or bowel.
Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) is a minimally invasive nonsurgical procedure used to treat fibroid tumors of the uterus.
The procedure uses fluoroscopy to guide the delivery of embolic agents to the uterus and fibroids. The agents block the flow of blood to the fibroids causing them to shrink.
Unlike some surgical procedures, uterine fibroid embolization leaves the uterus and the ovaries completely intact. Nearly 90 percent of women who are treated with uterine fibroid embolization experience significant or complete relief from their fibroid symptoms.
Women will typically return home the same day or the next day and can return to normal activities one week from the surgery. General anesthesia is not required for this procedure, and no abdominal incision is required.
How does uterine fibroid embolization work?
During the procedure, our interventional radiologists insert a catheter into the artery at the groin or the wrist. Fluoroscopy or real-time x-ray is used to guide the catheter directly to the arteries supplying the fibroids. Polyvinyl alcohol particles, no bigger than a grain of sand, are released into the artery to create a blockage and stop blood flow to the fibroids. The fibroids soften, bleeds less and eventually shrinks in size. During UFE, all fibroids can be treated simultaneously, and because the procedure is minimally invasive, blood loss is not typically a concern.
Most patients can return home the same day or the following day. They may experience some cramping, pain and or fever but can usually resume light activity within a few days.
Common questions about uterine fibroid embolization
How long does the UFE treatment take?
Uterine fibroid embolization usually takes between 1 and 3 hours. Patients can expect to have six or more hours of rest and downtime following the procedure. Once the recovery is under control, patients may be sent home or require a night stay in the hospital for observation.
Is uterine fibroid embolization painful?
Some patients do experience moderate pelvic pain six to twelve hours following the procedure. Usually, the pain can be treated with rest and mild pain medication.
What is the recovery time for uterine fibroid embolization?
Patients can expect to return to normal activities seven to ten days following the procedure. There may be some vaginal bleeding resulting from fibroid breakdown. In rare cases, pain can persist for a few months after the procedure but this is not common. Our providers will schedule a routine check-up with each patient one to three weeks following the procedure.
Can fibroids return after uterine fibroid embolization?
Most women will not experience fibroid regrowth after uterine fibroid embolization. In approximately ten percent of cases, fibroids do return but several years following the procedure.
Will uterine fibroid embolization affect future pregnancies?
Uterine fibroids are one of the most common causes of infertility and pregnancy complications for women. Uterine fibroids are traditionally removed surgically which can cause complications including, in some cases, the need for a complete hysterectomy. Uterine Fibroid Embolization is a less invasive treatment option that leaves a woman’s reproductive organs completely in-tact so pregnancy following a UFE procedure is possible.