If you have fibroids, you join approximately 30% of all women who develop them by age 35 and as many as 70% to 80% of women who develop them by age 50. Uterine fibroids are smooth, muscular tumors that form on the interior walls of the uterus during a woman’s childbearing years. Uterine fibroid embolization or UFE is a method of treating fibroids.
Symptoms from uterine fibroids can vary including heavy menstrual cycles, fatigue or dizziness, pelvic pressure and bloating, enlargement of the abdomen, constipation, increased urinary frequency, pain during sex, and even infertility.
Although fibroids are non-cancerous, many women consider having their fibroids removed. Treatment options include medication, hysterectomy, and uterine fibroid embolization.
What is Uterine Fibroid Embolization?
Uterine fibroid embolization or UFE is a safe, effective procedure with a success rate of over 85%. It results in a dramatic reduction of fibroid size and improvement in symptoms, while only 5-10% of patients may need repeat embolization to completely eliminate their symptoms. For women with uterine fibroids who suffer from heavy menstruation, UFE will usually result in a normal flow.
Since uterine fibroid embolization is a minimally-invasive treatment for fibroids, it is a great alternative to medication, hysterectomy, or myomectomy. The procedure involves inserting a thin tube called a catheter into the leg or wrist. Next, tiny beads are injected into the blood vessels that feed the fibroids to stop blood flow to the fibroids. At the end of the treatment, the patient returns home and due to lack of blood flow, the fibroids shrink gradually and die over the next few months.
An Interventional Radiologist who specializes in the vascular system performs uterine fibroid embolization. Our endovascular specialists here at ECCO Medical are expertly trained in minimally invasive procedures to address problems affecting the vascular system like uterine fibroids.
What are the benefits and risks of UFE?
The main benefit of uterine fibroid embolization is that patients can avoid surgery and a hospital stay. The procedure is performed in our office on an outpatient basis. Additionally, the lack of trauma to the uterus means that UFE is unlikely to affect fertility, unlike a hysterectomy.
Since there are no incisions, complications during uterine fibroids embolization are rare and can be treated easily. Major risks affect less than 1% of patients and will be thoroughly explained by your physician.
What happens after Uterine Fibroid Embolization?
Since UFE is performed instead of major surgery, the procedure requires no hospital stay and results in a shorter recovery. Most patients have no post-procedure restrictions. Recovery time after embolization typically takes a week to ten days. Patients may experience pelvic pain and pressure, breakthrough bleeding, fever, chills, and decreased energy levels comparable to a cold or flu.
Most patients report a significant reduction in their fibroids symptoms, often as quickly as the next menstrual cycle. It typically takes three months to see the full benefits of UFE, and often fibroids continue to shrink for six to nine months or longer.
If you are interested in learning about uterine fibroid embolization as an alternative to a hysterectomy, contact us at ECCO. Our expert physicians will help you determine which treatment option is right for you.
ECCO Medical – 8080 Park Meadows Dr. Suite 150, Lone Tree, CO 80124