Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE)
Are there any side effects? What are the most common complications?
Side effects are usually limited to post-procedural uterine cramping that can mimic strong menstrual pain. These are usually treated with oral pain medication and subside over the first few days. Complication rates are close to 1% and are usually mild, related to minor post-procedural infections, treatable with oral antibiotics, or minor bleeding at the entry site at the groin. Rarely (<<1%), injuries can occur to adjacent or downstream organs from non-target embolization, or uterine damage that ultimately leads to hysterectomy or other surgical intervention.
What exactly are uterine fibroids?
Uterine fibroids are large benign growths that develop in the muscle or mucosa of the uterus. They can be caused by hormonal imbalances, or sometimes spontaneously from genetics.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms can depend on location, size, and a number of fibroids. They can include heavy, prolonged menstrual periods, pelvic pain or pressure, pain in the back or legs, pain during sexual intercourse, bladder pressure with an urge to urinate, and an abnormally large abdomen.
How do I know if I have fibroids?
Fibroids can be diagnosed by your gynecologist during your annual pelvic exam. More often, however, fibroids are found on radiology diagnostic tests such as a pelvic ultrasound or MRI. Excel provides both of these exams on-site.
How do I prepare for a fibroid embolization?
We recommend having a gynecologic exam within 1 year of having a fibroid embolization. Discuss your plan with your gynecologist as some gynecologists will perfarm an endometrial biopsy before sending for embolization. We also require you to have basic blood work (PT/INR, WBC and blood count) before proceeding. Once you have this set, call to make an in-person consultation with our interventional radiologist.
What is an interventional radiologist (IR)?
An interventional radiologist (IR) is a physician who has sub-specialized training in both radiclogy and minimally invasive surgical techniques. He or she will be able to use radiology imaging to guide their hands during a procedure to minimize damage to normal structures, often even more so than laparoscopic interventions.
What should I expect when I meet with my IR?
Your IR doctor will do a physical examination, go over your medical history and make sure you are healthy for the procedure.
What should I expect on the procedure day?
Once confirmed for the procedure, you will be prescribed oral antibiotics and a short course of pain medication to take the night before and the morming of the procedure. You will take your normal medications (aside from blood thinners). You will have to fast for 6-8 hours prior to procedure, and will arrive early that maorning for pre-procedure [V insertion. Expect to stay the full day with us for observation and pain control (if needed).
Is the procedure painful? What kind of recovery can I expect?
Pain during the procedure is limited to the sting of the lidocaine along the groin where the catheter enters the artery. Post procedural pain can mimic uterine cramping and is usually mild, to moderate. Some patients have severe uterine cramping, that can last a few days. Most patients can go back to work in a few days.
Will my fertility or hormones be affected?
Although the long-term effects of fertility have not fully been studied, early studies show that retention of fertility in the younger population is comparable to surgical myomectomy. We advise patients that serious considerations be made if fertility is desired to be maintained, as both embolization and surgery can compromise the ability to have children in the future. Occasionally, and particularly in the perimenopausal age group (late 40's-50’s), embolization can trigger menopausal symptoms or menopause itself.
Will my insurance cover the procedure?
YES. Uterine fibroid embolization is covered by most major insurances. You will want to discuss this with your primary care physician to be sure the process is approved beforehand. If you are self-paying for the procedure, we offer discounts and competitive rates. Call us today to schedule!
Take your life back from fibroids...
- Fibroids are the most common benign tumor that can affect women’s fertility.
- Fibroids affect 20-40% of women aged 35- 50 and can be a significant contributor to chronic pelvic pain.
- The average woman suffers nearly 4 years before seeking treatment for fibroids.
- Nonsurgical options are now available
Uterine Fibroid Embolization
Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous (benign growths) that develop in the muscular wall of the uterus.
An embolization is a new minimally invasive, non-surgical approach to treating fibroids. The procedure is performed by an interventional radiologist (IR), a physician who specializes in minimally invasive operations and procedures.
With this method, a small plastic catheter is weaved gently from an artery in the left to the vessels supplying blood to the vessels supplying blood to the fibroids. Small beads are then injected which shut down the blood supply to the fibroids, causing them to shrink and eventually disappear.
The entire procedure can be done with oral pain medication and local anesthesia, avoiding the major risks associated with standard surgical hysterectomy and general anesthesia. It is over 90% effective in reducing or eliminating pain and bleeding from fibroids!