What are Uterine Fibroids?
Uterine fibroids are smooth, muscular tumors that form on the interior walls of the uterus. These growths appear during women’s childbearing years, and are so common that 30% of all women develop them by age 35, and as many as 70% to 80% of women develop them by age 50. Fortunately, these fibroids are non-cancerous, and do not increase a woman’s chances of developing uterine cancer.
- Heavy bleeding during periods
- Menstrual cycles that become progressively heavier and longer over time
- Symptoms of anemia, including increased fatigue or dizziness
- Feelings of fullness or heaviness in the pelvic area
- Leg or lower back pain
- Pelvic pressure and bloating; enlargement of the abdomen; constipation
- Increased urinary frequency, caused by fibroids pressing on the bladder
- Pain during sex
- Large or numerous fibroids can sometimes cause infertility
What is Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE)?
In the past, traditional treatment of uterine fibroids has involved hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus) or other forms of treatment that left the women incapable of becoming pregnant. At ECCO, we prefer a safer, gentler, minimally-invasive procedure called Uterine Fibroid Embolization, or UFE.
During this procedure, your interventional radiologist introduces a thin catheter into the arteries that feed the fibroids, pinpointing their exact location via X-ray fluoroscopy. The doctor then injects a solution of embolizing particles into the arteries to close them, which causes the fibroids they feed to shrink and die.
The UFE procedure is performed in our office-based laboratory on an outpatient basis. Because there are no incisions, there are few risks from the procedure itself, and the lack of trauma to the uterus means that you may retain your ability to become pregnant, if you so choose. Most patients report significant reductions of their reported symptoms, often as quickly as the next menstrual cycle.