Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE)

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What is a Uterine Fibroid?

Fibroid tumors are non-cancerous (benign) growths that develop in the muscular wall of the uterus. They can cause pain and heavy bleeding for some women.

What is a Uterine Artery Embolization?

Uterine artery embolization is a procedure in which the doctor injects tiny plastic or gelatin sponge particles the size of grains of sand, into the arteries that supply the blood to the fibroid tumor. This blocks the blood supply and causes the tumor to shrink.

Why do I need a uterine artery embolization?

The reasons for this procedure are:
  • Heavy prolonged menstrual periods.
  • Pelvic pain.
  • Bladder pressure that causes a constant urge to urinate.

Where is the embolization performed?

It is performed in the Interventional Radiology Department.

Who will perform the embolization?

One of our specially trained Interventional Radiologists.

What can I expect before the embolization?

  • You will be seen in our clinic by one of our doctors and/or nurse clinicians, who will obtain a health history, perform a brief physical exam, explain the procedure and answer your questions.
  • You will have blood drawn and an IV (intravenous) catheter started.
  • You may have an ultrasound exam.
  • You will be requested to sign a consent form.

What can I expect during the embolization?

  • You will be attached to a monitor so that IV (intravenous) medications can be given to relax you.
  • Your hip areas will be cleaned with special soap.
  • The doctor will numb the skin over the blood vessel with special medicine through a needle.
  • After making a needle stick, the doctor will insert a small tube into the artery and inject x-ray dye to look at your blood vessels on a TV monitor. You will feel a warm sensation from the dye.
  • Through this tube, the doctor will inject the particles.

What can I expect after the embolization?

  • You will be admitted to the hospital overnight for observation.
  • You will lie flat up to 6 hours.
  • You will be given medicine that controls pain and swelling.
  • Pain, cramping and fever, are common side effects. You will need to take Tylenol (acetominephin) 2 to 3 tabs (regular strength) every 4 hours for 48 hours.
  • Total recovery time is 1 to 2 weeks, but can take up to 6 to 8 weeks.

What are the risks of having an embolization?

  • Most women experience moderate to severe pain and cramping immediately following the procedure.
  • There is a small chance of injury to the uterus.
  • There is a chance of bleeding or injury to the hip artery.
  • A small number of women will enter into menopause.

What are the benefits of having an embolization?

  • This procedure is an alternative to surgical methods used to treat uterine fibroids.
  • This procedure allows a woman to keep her uterus, possibly preserving the ability to have children.

What are the alternatives to having an embolization?

Surgical removal of the fibroid and/or the uterus.