Frequently Asked Questions
What is Uterine Fibroid Embolization?
Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) is a minimally invasive procedure used to treat fibroids, a noncancerous uterine tumor. Fibroids are the most common uterine tumor in the female reproductive system. Symptoms typically include pelvic pain, heavy menstrual bleeding, cramping, and pressure on the pelvic organs.
Until recently, fibroids were typically treated by performing a hysterectomy, removal of the uterus, or myomectomy (surgical removal of fibroids while preserving the uterus.) Today, there are more options.
Uterine Fibroids are very common and are found in 25-40% of all women. African American women are at a higher risk for fibroids, with up to 50% of women between the ages of 35 and 45 diagnosed.
Symptoms may include:
- heavy, prolonged, painful menstrual periods
- pelvic pain, pressure or heaviness
- pain in the back or legs
- pain during sexual intercourse
- bladder pressure
- frequent urination
- abnormally enlarged abdomen
Diagnosis & Treatment
Fibroids are usually diagnosed during a gynecologic internal exam. Determining whether you are an appropriate candidate for Uterine Fibroid Embolization requires careful consideration of all treatment options. Most insurance companies pay for this treatment, but you may want to talk with your interventional radiologist about this before your procedure.
The procedure does not involve surgery. As a much less invasive but just as effective alternative, the physician will guide a small catheter into the uterine arteries and inject small particles, no bigger than a grain of sand that will cause the fibroids to shrink and symptoms to fade.
PREPARING FOR UFE
UFE is not painful and takes only one to two hours to perform. You will be made comfortable with IV sedation. After UFE, patients typically spend one night in the hospital and resume light activities within the next few days. The majority of patients are able to resume their normal routine within one week. Six months after the procedure, patients are scheduled for an MRI scan to confirm the success of the treatment.
PROCEDURE SUCCESS & RISKS
Uterine Fibroid Embolization is a successful treatment for thousands of women, with at least 90% reporting significant or total relief from fibroids. UFE is effective at treating multiple fibroids, without harming the uterus.
Women’s Health & Pelvic Congestion Syndrome
Pelvic congestion Syndrome (PCS) is an abnormal enlargement of the pelvic, ovarian and uterine veins. These veins have one way valves that normally prevent blood from backing up into the pelvis. When these valves are abnormal then the veins in the pelvis engorge. Blood pools in the pelvis and causes pain, irritation and heavy menstrual bleeding.
Embolization is the technique of blocking up an abnormal blood vessel. Embolization of the Pelvic Congestion Syndrome allows normal veins to form, pain to resolve and a patient to return to normal activity. This is an out patient procedure performed with a small “nick” in the skin with intravenous sedation.