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Fibroids Clinic

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.

Treatments for uterine fibroids vary depending on the patient’s symptoms, age, previous treatments and successful outcome, as well as the desire to have children.

What are Uterine Fibroids?

Uterine fibroids are common abnormal growths in the uterus which are benign (non-cancerous).

Common symptoms of uterine fibroids include:

  • Pelvic pain
  • Pain during intimacy
  • Infertility (caused by the distortion of the uterine lining)
  • A low red blood cell count resulting in fatigue
  • Prolonged and painful menstrual bleeding that is heavy and sometimes comes with clots
  • Frequent and hurried urination due to bladder pressure
  • Abnormally enlarged lower abdomen

Ideal Candidate for Uterine Fibroid Embolization

Patients with the following conditions may not be ideal candidates for UFE:

  • A desire for fertility preservation
  • Uncorrected bleeding problems
  • An active pelvic infection
  • Extremely large fibroids
  • Endometrial cancer

Possible Complications of Uterine Fibroid Embolization

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.

How to Prepare for UFE

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:

  1. Not to take solid food or beverages except water for at least 6 hours prior to the procedure
  2. The patient may drink water up to 2 hours prior to the procedure

The Procedure

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.

What to Expect After the Uterine Fibroid Embolization

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.

Benefits of Uterine Fibroid Embolization

Some of the benefits of UFE compared to traditional procedures of uterine fibroid excision include:

  • Absence of any surgical scar
  • The patient’s uterus remains preserved
  • UFE is associated with reduced recovery time, hence patients return home the same day and most likely return to normal activities sooner
  • It is a non-surgical, minimally invasive treatment option for uterine fibroids

There is a lower risk of complications, minimal pain, and minimal

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