Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) is a procedure performed by a radiologist that blocks blood flow to fibroids in the uterus. Fibroids treated with this procedure shrink an average of 48% to 78%.
You should not eat or drink anything for 4 to 8 hours before uterine fibroid embolization. About an hour before the procedure, you may be given a sedative to help you relax. It will not put you to sleep, since it is important that you be awake to follow instructions during the procedure.
A solution of polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) is injected into the uterine arteries through a thin flexible tube (catheter). The catheter is placed into a blood vessel in the upper thigh (femoral artery) and is guided to the arteries that supply blood to the uterus by fluoroscopy. Normal uterine tissue remains unharmed because it is supplied by other arteries.
What To Expect After Treatment
Uterine fibroid embolization usually takes between 1 and 3 hours, depending on how long it takes to position the catheter and how easy it is to position the catheter in the arteries in the uterus. When the procedure is over, the catheter is removed and pressure is applied to the puncture site for 10 to 15 minutes to stop any bleeding. A bandage is then applied.
Pelvic pain is common for 6 to 12 hours following this procedure. Pain medication is given to control this pain if needed. Some women are able to control their pain with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen or Aspirin.
You will be able to return to your usual activities in 7 to 10 days.
Why It Is Done
Uterine fibroid embolization is used to shrink or destroy uterine fibroids. It is used in women who do not wish to have a hysterectomy, do not wish to have any more children, and have not completed menopause. Although there are no size limits, UFE is not recommended for all types of fibroids.
How Well It Works
UFE is an effective treatment, but fibroids may return.
Uterine fibroid embolization shrinks fibroids an average of 48% to 78%.
Approximately 85% of women treated with UFE for uterine fibroids report improvement in symptoms.
After 6 years, uterine fibroids return in 10% to 27% of women treated with UFE.
The incidence of complications following UFE is low but includes:
What To Think About
- Premature menopause.
- Loss of menstrual periods (amenorrhea).
- Scar tissue formation (adhesions).
Uterine fibroid embolization may be a good treatment option for women who do not wish to receive blood transfusions or who have other serious health conditions that make general anesthesia dangerous. It is not safe for women who are allergic to contrast material. Because the results on fertility are unknown, it is not recommended for women who wish to have children.
UFE has several advantages over hysterectomy, myomectomy, or treatment with hormone suppressor medications:
Disadvantages of UFE include:
- Symptoms improve in 80% to 90% of women.
- General anesthesia and an abdominal incision are not required.
- There is no blood loss and therefore no need for blood transfusions.
- All fibroids may be treated at once.
- It does not cause premature menopause, bone thinning (osteopenia), or the other serious side effects associated with hormone suppressor medications.
- Unknown effect on fertility. It is not recommended for women who wish to have additional children.
- The possibility of delayed infection.
- Lack of long-term follow-up data on recurrence rates.
Natural Alternatives for Uterine Fibroids
Bioidentical Progesterone Cream (Progensa 20)
Bioidentical progesterone minimizes the size and frequency of uterine fibroids by balancing the excess estrogen levels, it is the single most successful way to combat fibroids.
Uterine Fibroid Formula (ProSoothe)
ProSoothe is an all natural herbal formula that significantly improves uterine fibroids and pelvic pain/cramps, irritability, tension, mood swings, acne, headaches, breast pain, bloating and weight gain. Found in this synergistic herbal formula is dandelion and vitex,(chaste tree) that helps the body remove exogenous,(external excess estrogen)from hormone therapy or contaminated food,(xenosteroids).
Milk Thistle (Silymarin)
Beyond the treatment of liver disorders, everyday care of the liver lays a cornerstone for health. Naturopaths and other holistic doctors who look beneath the symptoms of an illness to its underlying cause, often discover that the liver has had a role to play. This is true across a vast range of different ailments including uterine fiboids. If a womans liver does not function she is unable to metabolize her own estrogen, in turn her own hormone production feeding her fibroid growth.
For More Information-Uterine Fibroids
Uterine Fibroids Options
Uterine Fibroids-Condition Treatments