Uterine Fibroid Embolization

November 12, 2012

Uterine Fibroid Embolization

The procedure of uterine fibroid embolization is carried out by a radiologist and this is carried out to block the blood flow to fibroids in the uterus.

Uterine fibroid embolization is an option available to women who are not considering pregnancy instead of having surgery to treat fibroids.

Uterine fibroids are benign growths which form in the womb (uterus). They can also develop outside the womb. Uterine fibroids are developed from normal cells when they begin to grow abnormally.

The procedure of uterine fibroid embolization can normally take anything from one to three hours. It is dependent on how long it takes to place the catheter. Pressure is applied to the area for about 15 minutes after removal of the catheter. After the procedure has been carried out approximately six hours of bed rest will be necessary.

It may be that after the period of bed rest and the pain is controlled you can be discharged from hospital. If you require more pain relief and observation you may have to spend the night in hospital.

Moderate to severe pain in the pelvis area is to be expected up to 12 hours after this procedure has been performed. If you are experiencing vomiting and feeling nauseas then anti-nausea medication can be given. Women have reported being able to control the pain by using anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin or ibuprofen.

Some vaginal bleeding may be experienced for a few weeks and this is from a fibroid which has broken down.

Some women experience pain and bleeding for a number of months. Between six weeks and three months after having a UFE procedure a fibroid may be passed from the vaginal area. If this happens contact your doctor to ensure that no problems with bleeding are occurring and also there is no risk of an infection developing.

If there have been no complications with this procedure it would be expected for you to return to your every day activities within 10 days.

Up to 3 weeks after the procedure a check up will be performed, and between 3 and 6 months an ultrasound will be done.

Uterine fibroid embolization is a procedure that is used to reduce or destroy uterine fibroids. Women who have fibroid problems and who do not want to have a hysterectomy as their form of treatment and do not plan to be pregnant are suitable for this treatment. The treatment is only suitable for women who have yet to reach the menopause.

UFE is considered to be an effective form of treatment but there is a chance that the fibroids can return. By carrying out this procedure the fibroids reduce in size and approximately 50% to 80% of the women who have had treatment report their symptoms improved. UFE does not completely cure uterine fibroids. A study showed that one in five women who had this procedure had to have a repeat uterine fibroid embolization or hysterectomy within three and a half years.

The risks of complications arising are low but do include:

  • Premature menopause

  • Loss of menstrual period

  • Infection

  • Prolonged period of pain

  • Scar tissue forming

If you would like to become pregnant in the future then having a uterine fibroid embolization procedure is not recommended. Some women have reported suffering from ovarian failure and there are other reports of women needing to have a hysterectomy to treat infection which has occurred after the procedure.

There are advantages of having uterine fibroid embolization compared to a myomectomy, hysterectomy, or GnRH-a treatment. There is no need for a general anesthetic and no incision is required to the abdomen. As there is no loss of blood it means there is no requirement for a blood transfusion. With this procedure a number of fibroids can be treated at the same time. There are no serious side effects such as osteopenia (bone-thinning) or other side effects which are linked to GnRH-a therapy.

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