Uterine fibroid embolization is a minimally invasive treatment used to shrink the size of uterine fibroids.
This is typically a benign or non-cancerous tumor that arises from the muscular wall of the uterus. Though it is rare for these fibroids to become cancerous, they can cause other complications. Complications including heavy menstrual bleeding, pressure on the bladder and/or bowel, and pain in the pelvic region. Uterine fibroids are unfortunately common, and can range in size from a quarter inch to the size of a cantaloupe. In some cases Uterine fibroids cause the uterus to expand to the size it would in the fifth month of pregnancy. Fibroids can grow as a single tumor, or as a number of tumors.
For uterine fibroid embolization, an interventional radiology specialist will use an x-ray camera referred to as a fluoroscope. The fluoroscope guides small particles to the fibroid and uterus through a catheter. These particles block blood flow from the arteries supplying the fibroid. By choking off the supply, this procedure causes the fibroid to shrink. This reduces the painful and annoying symptoms it can cause. Research has shown that uterine fibroid embolization brings relief to almost 90% of women with uterine fibroids.
This is also sometimes called uterine artery embolization. While it is a type of uterine artery embolization, it is not strictly the same thing. Uterine fibroid embolization is only used to treat uterine fibroids, while uterine artery embolization stops types of pelvic bleeding, including bleeds caused by malignant tumors, trauma and childbirth.
Additionally, patients should also be aware that the effects of embolization on fertility are not well known. This is a treatment generally only offered to women who no longer wish to become pregnant. Also this treatment is for women who want to avoid having a hysterectomy. Your physician and interventional radiology specialist will discuss these concerns with you.