What is Uterine Fibroid Embolization?
Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) is a minimally invasive treatment for uterine fibroids that safely and effectively shrinks fibroids by blocking the blood flow to the fibroids. For women with mild to severe symptoms, UFE is a possible option in place of surgery for the treatment of fibroids.
UFE does not require general anesthesia. The procedure is performed under local anesthesia with the patient conscious, but sedated, and feeling no pain. The interventional radiologist makes a tiny nick in the skin in the groin (femoral artery) or the wrist (radial artery) and using real-time imaging, the physician guides the catheter through the artery to the site of the fibroid and then releases tiny spheres, the size of grains of sand, into the uterine arteries that supply blood to the fibroid tumor. This blocks the blood flow to the fibroid tumor causing it to shrink and die.
What Are Uterine Fibroids?
Uterine fibroids are common, non-cancerous tumors of the uterus. It’s estimated that by the age of 35, 40% of Caucasian women and up to 60% of African American women will have uterine fibroids. Genetics, race, obesity, and higher estrogen levels are all considered risk factors for developing fibroids.
There are three basic types of uterine fibroids, classified according to their location in the uterus:
- Subserosal Fibroids: These develop in the outer portion of the uterus and continue to grow outward
- Intramural Fibroids: These are the most common type and develop in the uterine wall and expand
- Submucosal Fibroids: These are the least common and develop within the uterine cavity, causing excessive and prolonged menstrual bleeding
- Pedunculated fibroids grow on stalks or stems. These stems are attached to the uterine wall and can grow either outside the uterus or inside the uterine cavity.
What are Symptoms of Uterine Fibroids?
In some women, fibroids can produce mild or no symptoms at all. For others, symptoms of uterine fibroids include considerable pain and heavy bleeding. For these reasons alone, treating uterine fibroids is a priority for most women seeking symptomatic relief.
Other symptoms include:
- Abnormal menstrual cycle (heavy or frequently occurring)
- Painful menstrual periods
- Pain during or after sexual intercourse
- Pressure on the bladder causing frequent urination
- Acute or severe pelvic pain
If you are experiencing some or any of these symptoms, know that there are options for the type of treatment available. When considering the various surgical uterine fibroid treatment options available, you should weigh the risks and benefits of each uterine fibroid procedure.
One option, UFE, is an alternative treatment option to uterine fibroid surgery performed in a hospital. UFE is a minimally invasive uterine fibroid procedure that safely and effectively shrinks uterine fibroid tumors and offers relief from the unpleasant symptoms that come with them. UFE requires no surgery and is performed in an outpatient setting where you can go home the same day for a quicker recovery as compared to surgery.
Who is a Candidate for Uterine Fibroid Embolization?
You are a good candidate for UFE if you:
- Are a woman who is over the age of 35
- Are not currently pregnant
- Have been diagnosed with uterine fibroids
- Are experiencing symptoms such as excessive heavy bleeding, cramping, pelvic pain, bloating or frequent urination
You are also a candidate if you prefer a non-surgical uterine fibroid treatment option that will preserve your uterus. Make sure to discuss all options with your physician before making a decision.
Benefits of UFE
- Uterine fibroid embolization is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure with no incision needed
- Requires only local (rather than general) anesthesia
- Does not cause scarring like surgical techniques do
- While there will be some moderate pain after a UFE procedure, it is typically less intensive than post-surgical pain
- A good option if you would like to preserve your uterus vs. a hysterectomy
- 85-90% of women experience significant relief of their symptoms
- Faster recovery time compared to surgery
- Same day procedure, typically no overnight stay needed, so you can recover at home
- Reduced risk of infection as compared to surgery
- Easy to make and quickly schedule an appointment at an outpatient center
How We Can Help You With Uterine Fibroid Treatment
If you have been diagnosed with uterine fibroids, know that a hysterectomy is not your only option. Our physicians at Azura Vascular Care are specialists in treating women with uterine fibroids using uterine fibroid embolization, a minimally invasive procedure performed at many of our locations. The interventional radiologists and clinical staff at our outpatient vascular centers combine medical expertise and compassion to guide you through your uterine fibroid treatment journey every step of the way, providing symptomatic relief and getting you back to your daily routine quickly.
At Azura Vascular Care, we work every day to deliver far more than our patients expect. We bring our full range of medical capabilities and service excellence to every patient, every visit at each of our centers nationwide.
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