Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) is an outpatient, minimally invasive, non-surgical procedure used to treat uterine fibroids. While UFE is not a new procedure, alternate access types to the artery have emerged. Instead of accessing fibroids through the femoral artery in the groin, a safe and effective alternative is through the radial artery in the wrist. At Vascular Interventions of Tampa, Dr. Warren Krackov is a pioneer in offering his patients the transradial approach for uterine fibroid treatment in Tampa.
“Transradial access is a way for us to perform the uterine fibroid embolization procedure in an even less invasive way,” says Dr. Krackov. “It’s very comfortable. It’s very easy to recover from and it’s very well tolerated. So we’ve taken essentially a minimally invasive procedure and made it less invasive… about as least invasive as you can get.”
Q & A with Warren Krackov, MD
Why do women choose UFE for uterine fibroid treatment?
Without a doubt, the UFE procedure is one of the least invasive ways to effectively treat uterine fibroids. UFE is performed in about one hour under local anesthesia, in a comfortable, outpatient setting. Most of my patients resume normal activity in a matter of days.
How is the transradial approach different from the traditional femoral approach?
With the femoral approach, I begin by making a small incision in the femoral artery, which is located in the groin. The incision gives me access to the uterine artery via the femoral artery. With the transradial approach, I make an even smaller nick in the skin at the wrist and pass a small catheter through the radial artery, which is then passed through the body and then into the uterine artery.
What are the advantages/benefits of the transradial approach?
The transradial approach improves the patient experience because entry into the body is more comfortable and convenient. The radial artery is closer to the surface of the skin so it’s an easier access point than the femoral artery. Also with the transradial approach, patients are able to sit up and move around immediately after the procedure is complete whereas with the femoral approach, the patient must lie flat on her back for at least several hours and pressure is applied to the entry site for ten minutes. Recovery after the transradial approach is much faster.
Will I be able to return to normal activities after the UFE procedure?
Patients who undergo the femoral approach need to take it easy for a few days like being careful climbing stairs and no lifting of heavy objects. This is inconvenient for many of patients. With the transradial approach, patients need only to take care of the tiny band aid on their wrist but there are generally few other physical restrictions.
Is the transradial approach used for every patient?
Unfortunately, not every fibroid patient is a candidate for the transradial approach. The radial artery needs to be the right size, which I confirm with ultrasound prior to the procedure, and the patient’s blood vessel anatomy in the hand plays a role. This, too, can be quickly confirmed with a painless test in the office. The patient’s medical history also factors in.
What can patients expect after the UFE procedure?
After the procedure, no matter which access is chosen, you can expect to experience nausea, fever, pain and abdominal cramping. I send my patients home with medications to help manage the pain so that they remain comfortable during the recovery process. My UFE patients can reach me 24/7 through our office. We realize that uterine fibroids are lifestyle limiting and we’re here to help make this experience go as smoothly as possible.
If you are interested in uterine fibroid embolization and the transradial approach for uterine fibroid treatment, request an appointment with Dr. Krackov to discuss your symptoms, medical history and goals for this procedure. Together, you can determine if this is the best option for you.