Uterine Fibroid Embolization

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Uterine fibroid embolization is a safe, effective, non-surgical treatment for uterine fibroids. Using a catheter — a thin tube that is inserted through a small nick in the inner thigh — a radiologist administers agents that block the flow of blood to the fibroids.

Need to Know

Nice to Know
  • Do not eat or drink anything at least eight hours before the procedure
  • Tell your Radiologist about any allergies, especially to local or general anesthetics and contrast materials (“x-ray dye”)
  • Bring a list of medications you are currently taking and their dosages
  • If you are taking a blood thinner or aspirin product, the physician will instruct you when to stop taking these medications
  • If you are diabetic, the physician will give you insulin and/or anti-diabetic medication dosing instructions
  • Inform your radiologist if you are pregnant
  • You should plan to have someone take you home after the procedure
  • Before your procedure, you will meet with your Jefferson Radiology Physician for a consultation
  • Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing
  • You will be given a gown to wear during your treatment
  • You will be relaxed during the procedure and can go home after a recovery period
  • This treatment is a minimally invasive alternative to conventional surgery
  • No surgical incision is needed, just a small nick in the skin

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How Does It Work?

Uterine Fibroid Embolization works by blocking the blood supply to the fibroid, causing it to shrink and become inactive.

What Happens — Before, During, and After?

A clinical staff member will bring you into the pre-procedure area and ask you to change into a gown. An intravenous (IV) line will be inserted into a vein in your hand or arm. You will be given medication prior to your procedure. Your doctor will greet you, review the procedure, and answer any questions you may have. You will be brought into the procedure room, and you will be positioned on the procedure table. You will be connected to monitors for your heart rate, blood pressure, and pulse.

The technologist will shave, sterilize, and cover the area of your body where a catheter will be inserted with a surgical drape, usually the inner thigh. A local anesthetic is administered to numb the groin area. The radiologist will make a very small nick, and you may feel some pressure as the catheter is inserted, but you won’t feel any serious discomfort. Depending on the complexity of your condition, the procedure may take from 30 minutes to a few hours. When the catheter is removed, pressure is applied to prevent bleeding, and the nick is bandaged. No sutures are needed.

Most patients feel some discomfort after the procedure. Medications can be given to control pain. You may also experience nausea or a low-grade fever. Some patients experience cramps. Most patients can go home the same day after a period of observation.

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How Should I Prepare?

There are things you can do to make your experience more comfortable, and many of these will depend on your individual preferences. You might like to keep a list of questions or – as you’re doing now- educate yourself about the procedure.

You will need to get a blood test to check your liver and kidney functions.

Another important part of your preparation will be guided by your doctor:

  • Your doctor may ask you to stop taking aspirin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), or blood thinners (such as Coumadin, Warfarin, Plavix, Fragmin) for a time before the procedure.

Some of your preparation will need to be timed to the procedure:

  • The day before the procedure (or the Friday before, if you’re scheduled for a Monday procedure), a clinical staff member from the Interventional Radiology Department will call you. The clinical staff member will give you any additional instructions, and will ask if you have any questions.
  • In the 8 hours before the procedure, do not drink fluids or eat food.
  • You may take the medications with a sip of water
  • When you arrive, make sure the clinical staff member and radiologist know about any allergies you may have, especially allergies to local anesthetics (such as lidocaine), general anesthetics, or x-ray dye (contrast media). If there’s any chance you might be pregnant, tell your radiologist.
 
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What Should I Bring?

On the day of your procedure you should:

  • Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes
  • Wear comfortable shoes
  • Avoid bringing jewelry or valuables
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What Are the Benefits and Risks?

The benefits of Uterine Fibroid Embolization could be:

  • The procedure is much less invasive than conventional surgical techniques. You lose less blood, and there’s no scar
  • The procedure can be performed as an outpatient procedure

Risks you should be aware of include:

  • Like any catheterization procedure, there is a risk of damage to blood vessels, bruising, bleeding, or infection at the puncture site
  • There is a small risk of infection at the site of embolization, even with antibiotics
  • The embolic agent could go someplace it is not supposed to go, and harm normal tissue

Keep in mind that this information is general. Your radiologist is the best source of information about how these risks and benefits may apply to you.

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FAQs

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How often is Uterine Fibroid Embolization successful in treating fibroids?

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What are typical complications associated with a Uterine Fibroid Embolization?

 
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How will I feel throughout a Uterine Fibroid Embolization procedure?

 
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How long should I expect to be off work after having a Uterine Fibroid Embolization?

 
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How long should I expect to stay in the hospital after having a Uterine Fibroid Embolization?

 
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What happens to the fibroids after a Uterine Fibroid Embolization?

 
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Will my fibroids or symptoms come back after having a Uterine Fibroid Embolization?

 
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Will I still get my period after having Uterine Fibroid Embolization?

 
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How can fibroids affect sexual intercourse?

 
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What happens after a Uterine Fibroid Embolization?

 
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What is the Uterine Fibroid Embolization procedure like?

 
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What are fibroids?

 
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What are the symptoms of fibroids?

 
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How are fibroids diagnosed?

 
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Who is at risk for fibroids?

 
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Which OBGYNs refer to you for Uterine Fibroid Embolizations?

 
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Why do you prefer Embosphere Microspheres for Uterine Fibroid Embolization?

 

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What kind of follow-up care is typical after a Uterine Fibroid Embolization?

 

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If I have multiple fibroids am I still a good candidate for a Uterine Fibroid Embolization?

 

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Please explain how you would coordinate my care with my OB/GYN.

 

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Are your patients happy with the Uterine Fibroid Embolization procedure?

 

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Will a Uterine Fibroid Embolization be able to treat very large Fibroids?

 

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Will my insurance cover a UFE?

 

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How is an enlarged uterus from fibroids similar to pregnancy?

 

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Is it always necessary to treat fibroids?

 

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Are there medications or natural remedies used to treat fibroids?

 

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What are treatments for fibroids beyond medications?

 

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What are the challenges with a myomectomy?

 

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Please describe the particles used to block the arteries in a uterine fibroid embolization

 

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When is a myomectomy better than a uterine fibroid embolization?

 

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What is more common: the open myomectomy or the laparoscopic myomectomy?

 

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