Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE), is a minimally invasive non-surgical procedure that is usually performed as an alternative to myomectomy (procedure that removes fibroids while preserving the uterus) or hysterectomy (procedure that removes the uterus). The procedure is performed by an Interventional Radiologist who are highly trained for performing these minimally invasive procedures. The procedure works by blocking blood supply to the uterine fibroids, resulting in their shrinkage. Because UFE is minimally invasive, UFE requires minimal hospital stay due to the shorter recovery time associated with it.
Uterine fibroids are common abnormal growths in the uterus which are benign (non-cancerous).
Common symptoms of uterine fibroids include:
Patients with the following conditions may not be ideal candidates for UFE:
Complications associated with UFE are rare and most of them can be treated. Some of the risks include fibroid expulsion and infection of the uterus.
Often, preparation for Uterine Fibroid Embolization is not extensive or complicated, and mostly requires following simple instructions recommended by the Interventional Radiologist. Some of these include:
During the procedure, which is performed under local anesthesia and mild sedation, an interventional radiologist inserts a thin catheter into the artery at the groin or wrist. The incision is usually small, about the size of the tip of a pencil.
Next, the radiologist will guide the catheter to the fibroid’s blood supply where small particles are released to float downstream and block the small blood vessels and deprive the fibroid of nutrients.
The fibroids will soften, bleed less, and shrink in size. A majority of patients who undergo uterine fibroid embolization show significant improvement, and symptoms may go away completely.
After the procedure, the patient may be discharged on the same day or stay overnight. She may experience cramping and pain. Fever, which is an occasional side effect can be treated. The patient can resume light activity within a few days.
Some of the benefits of UFE compared to traditional procedures of uterine fibroid excision include:
There is a lower risk of complications, minimal pain, and minimal
UFE is a good option for women who have symptomatic fibroids and who want to avoid surgery. It is also a good option for women who are not planning to have children in the future.
UFE is performed under local anesthesia. A catheter is inserted into the blood vessels in the groin and threaded up to the uterus. The doctor then injects tiny particles into the blood vessels that supply the fibroids. The particles block the blood supply to the fibroids, causing them to shrink or die.
The risks of UFE are relatively low. Some of the possible risks include: Pain, Bleeding, Infection, Scarring, Damage to other organs
The benefits of Uterine Fibroid Embolization include: - It is a minimally invasive procedure, which means that there is less pain and scarring than with surgery. - It is a safe and effective treatment for fibroids. - It can help to improve symptoms such as heavy bleeding and pain. - It can help to preserve fertility.
Dr. Yasir Naji is a Consultant Interventional Radiologist at Clemenceau Medical Center (CMC) Dubai. He is a board-certified interventional radiologist with over 15 years of experience. He is a specialist in minimally invasive procedures, including uterine fibroid embolization (UFE).