If you’re a woman of childbearing age, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of fibroids. Fibroids are benign (non-cancerous) growths that can develop in the uterus. They are relatively common, affecting an estimated 20-80% of women. In most cases, fibroids cause no symptoms and require no treatment. However, some women with fibroids experience heavy bleeding, pain, and other problems.
For women who suffer from symptomatic fibroids, there are a few treatment options available. One option is surgical removal of the fibroids (myomectomy). However, surgery is not always an option for women who want to maintain their fertility. For these women, uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) may be an alternative to surgery.
What is UFE?
UFE is a minimally invasive procedure that is used to treat symptomatic fibroids. The goal of the procedure is to shrink the fibroids and relieve symptoms such as heavy bleeding and pain.
During UFE, a catheter is inserted into the radial artery (located in the wrist) and threaded through the blood vessels to the uterus. Once the catheter is in place, small particles are injected into the vessels that supply blood to the fibroids. This cuts off the blood supply to the fibroids and causes them to shrink.
UFE is performed by interventional radiologists—doctors who specialize in minimally invasive procedures using X-rays or other imaging guidance. The procedure itself takes about 45 minutes, this is performed in the clinic and patients are discharged within a couple of hours
What are the risks of UFE?
As with any medical procedure, there are some risks associated with UFE. These include infection, bruising or bleeding at the injection site, and risks related to sedation (if used). There is also a very small risk (<1%) of damage to nearby blood vessels or organs. However, overall UFE is a safe and effective procedure with a low risk of complications.
Result & Recovery After UFE Recovery from UFE is typically quick and easy. Most women feel well enough to return to their normal activities within a week after the procedure. You may experience some cramping and spotting for a week or two after UFE as your body adjusts to the loss of blood supply to the fibroids. Some women also find that their symptoms improve immediately after UFE while others may take 3-6 months to notice a difference.
If you’re suffering from symptomatic fibroids, uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) may be a treatment option worth considering. UFE is a minimally invasive procedure that works by cutting off the blood supply to the fibroids and causing them to shrink. The procedure itself only takes about 45 minutes, and you will be observed in the clinic for an hour or 2 prior to discharge. Overall, UFE is a safe and effective procedure with a low risk of complications and most women feel well enough to return to their normal activities within a week after the procedure.