Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) is a proven, non-surgical alternative to hysterectomy and myomectomy for the treatment of fibroids. A UFE procedure takes about one hour to complete, provides symptom control comparable to surgery, and has a significantly shorter recovery time as little as one week. Many women are unaware of less invasive fibroid treatment options, such as UFE, and continue to accept hysterectomy as the treatment of choice. Hysterectomy involves surgical removal of the uterus, and many times the ovaries, and can have a profound impact on a woman’s life.
Is UFE Right for You?
Deciding on UFE
UFE may be a good option for women who need treatment for fibroid symptoms, but want to avoid surgery.
Patients who are ideal for UFE include women who:
- Have symptomatic fibroids
- Want to keep their uterus
- Do not want surgery
- Desire a shorter hospital stay
- May not be good candidates for surgery
- Do not intend to get pregnant in the future
UFE and Fertility
It is currently advised that women who want to maintain fertility should not have UFE. However, numerous studies have shown that the majority of women actively trying to become pregnant were able to achieve pregnancy after UFE. Most resulted in term deliveries and newborns of typical size.
Discuss this with one of our UFE doctors:
About the Procedure
As a patient, you will have the opportunity to meet our interventional radiologist in your initial clinic appointment where we will discuss the UFE procedure and answer your questions. During this appointment, it may be necessary to perform a pelvic ultrasound or blood work to fully evaluate your clinical needs.
Fibroids are common, benign (noncancerous) growths in or on the walls of the uterus. They are also called myomas or leiomyomas.
UFE is performed by an interventional radiologist (IR). Patients receive mild sedation and a numbing agent to ensure comfort during the procedure. They begin the procedure by making a small nick at the top of the leg, near the groin area. Next, a tiny tube called a catheter is inserted into the femoral artery at the top of the leg (Fig. 2).
The catheter is then guided into the uterine artery and a contrast-enhanced X-ray is taken to map the arteries feeding the fibroids. Tiny Embosphere® Microspheres are injected through the catheter and into the fibroids, cutting off their blood supply (Fig. 3).
As a result, the fibroids shrink and symptoms are resolved, sparing the uterus and ovaries (Fig. 4).
Questions to Ask Your Doctor
It is important for women to weigh their treatment options carefully. Women should conduct personal research, speak to other women and consult with their gynecologist and an interventional radiologist (IR) (doctor who uses imaging to conduct minimally invasive procedures to treat conditions including fibroids).
- How often is the procedure successful?
- How many UFE’s have you performed?
- What results should I expect?
- What are typical complications and how often do they occur?
- How will I feel during and after the procedure?
- How long should I expect to be off work?
- How long should I expect to stay in the hospital?
- What kind of follow-up care is typical and who manages it?
- Will I be able to get pregnant after UFE?
- Will my insurance cover the procedure?