About three out of every four women in the US experience uterine fibroid tumors during their lifetime. This means suffering from pelvic pain and many other depilating symptoms. However, there is relief! Through a minimally-invasive, non-surgical procedure called uterine fibroid embolization (UFE).
Living with uterine fibroid tumors is painful. One may endure excessive menstrual bleeding, pelvic pain, pressure, and increased urination frequency. With UFE, a Hysterectomy and myomectomy are not your only options.
UFE shrinks fibroids and provides immediate relief. UFE occurs in an outpatient setting. This means no incisions, no general anesthesia, and a much shorter recovery time. It gives proven comfort. It allows a woman to save their uterus, which can lead to long-term health benefits.
What Are Fibroids?
Uterine fibroids are benign growths that form in the smooth muscle layers of the uterus. These fibroids can cause various symptoms that affect your quality of life. Some symptoms may occur: heavy menstrual bleeding, prolonged menstrual periods, pelvic pain, and frequent urination. Also, constipation, bloating, pain during intercourse, and backache or leg pain may occur.
Before, the only treatments available for uterine fibroid tumors were a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) or myomectomy (removal of the fibroids). These options are generally effective but require general anesthesia. Additionally, there is a lengthy recovery time and have higher complication rates than UFE.
Uterine Fibroid Embolization Treatment
Uterine Fibroid Embolization is a safe, non-invasive procedure. It shrinks the fibroids while saving your uterus. A vascular surgeon performs this procedure. It blocks blood flow to fibroids in the uterus. Also know as uterine artery embolization. Women who are not planning a pregnancy may consider UFE as a possible option.
The minimally-invasive procedure begins with a thin, flexible tube called a catheter. The catheter is placed into a blood vessel in the upper thigh (femoral artery). A substance called contrast material is then injected into the catheter. This may cause a warming sensation as it travels up to the uterus. The surgeon uses real-time X-ray on a video screen (fluoroscopy) to see the arteries. This allows the surgeon to guide the catheter to the arteries that supply blood to the fibroid. A solution of polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) particles is injected into the uterine arteries through the catheter. The particles build up in the targeted arteries and block blood flow to the fibroid.
What To Expect
UFE typically takes between one and three hours. When the procedure is over, the surgeon removes the catheter, applying pressure to the puncture site for several minutes. Patients remain in bed for about six to eight hours. Then the patient may go home with bed rest instructions or stay in the hospital overnight. Moderate to severe pelvic pain is common for six to 12 hours after a UFE procedure.
Patients may experience vaginal bleeding for a couple of weeks. This is due to the fibroid that is breaking down. In some cases, bleeding or pain persists for several months. Some women may also pass fibroid tissue from the vagina. This usually occurs six weeks to three months after having UFE.
Patients should be able to return to normal activities in seven to 10 days. However, if severe bleeding or pain occurs, patients should call the doctor immediately or seek medical attention.