When it comes to treating uterine fibroids, there are many options to choose from. In the past, traditional methods have included hysterectomy and hospital stays. However, uterine fibroid embolization, or UFE, is a minimally invasive procedure that requires no general anesthesia and a short recovery time. (More benefits can be found here.) If this procedure is a good fit for the patient, here’s exactly what they can expect.
How to Prepare for Uterine Fibroid Embolization.
Patients have a clinic consultation with Dr. Kovaleski prior to the procedure to discuss their symptoms and overall clinical picture. During this conversation, Dr. Kovaleski will also make the patient aware of any tests that need to be done prior to the procedure.
Because UFE takes place in an outpatient setting, there’s no need to prepare for a long hospital stay. At ECCO, procedures take place quickly and safely all in one day, with no need for an overnight stay.
What happens on the day of the procedure?
Once the patient arrives at ECCO, nurses will prep them with an IV, administer any necessary medications, draw blood, etc. Moderate sedation is administered through the IV throughout the procedure to keep patients comfortable. Moderate sedation differs from general anesthesia in the fact that patients can breathe on their own without needing to be hooked up to a respirator. There is also less recovery from moderate sedation medications.
Once the patient is adequately sedated, a small puncture is made into an artery in the wrist, through which Dr. Kovaleski inserts a catheter. Using image guided equipment, he will guide this catheter to the location of the uterine fibroids. This hollow tube allows for the embolization material to be injected into the blood supply of the fibroids. Blocking off their blood supply starves the tumors of oxygen, causing them to shrink and sometimes disappear altogether.
The procedure can take anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes.
What to expect after Uterine Fibroid Embolization.
All patients will go home the same day as the procedure. Recovery time for UFE can range from seven to fourteen days and most women find that they can return to light or normal activity after just a few days. Some cramping and pain in the pelvis can occur, as well as nausea. These symptoms are managed with oral prescription medications.
“Feature Image” and YouTube video courtesy of ©Merit Medical-used with permission.