The Benefits of Embolization Before Hysterectomy

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The Benefits of Embolization Before Hysterectomy

By age 50, two-thirds of all women have fibroids. But these uterine growths don’t affect everyone equally.

African-American women have three times the risk compared to White and Asian women. Black women also develop fibroids at an earlier age, and they’re more likely to have large growths with more severe symptoms.

Kevin Carson, MD, CAQ, at Georgia Vascular Institute, often treats fibroids with uterine embolization, an effective procedure that eliminates the growths without harming your uterus.

Unfortunately, some women discover that their best or only choice for fibroid treatment is a hysterectomy. If you face a hysterectomy, embolization makes your surgery considerably safer.

Embolization explained

Embolization is a minimally invasive endovascular procedure (performed within the blood vessel) that stops blood flow by creating a purposeful blockage in a specific artery or vein. 

A carefully targeted embolization stops abnormal bleeding and treats several health conditions, including aneurysms (dangerous bulges in blood vessels), hemorrhoids, cancerous tumors, and noncancerous growths like uterine fibroids.

We have extensive experience performing uterine fibroid embolizations. This procedure blocks the blood supply to the fibroid, making the growth shrink and disappear.

Women often seek an embolization when fibroid symptoms like heavy menstrual bleeding and pelvic pain don’t improve with standard medical treatments. 

They may also want an embolization to avoid their last treatment option: a hysterectomy to remove the entire uterus.

In some circumstances, you can’t avoid a hysterectomy. For example, an embolization may not be effective if you have a very large fibroid or numerous fibroids. 

Sometimes, women choose to have a hysterectomy, especially if they have severe symptoms and they’re certain they don’t want to get pregnant in the future.

No matter the reason, if you need a hysterectomy to remove fibroids, you should also learn about the benefits of embolization before surgery.

How embolization supports a hysterectomy

Hysterectomy is a common and generally safe procedure. But, like all surgeries, hysterectomies also come with risks.

One of the top risks, bleeding during and after your surgery, substantially increases when you have fibroids.

The size of your uterus increases as fibroids grow. The enlarged and often misshapen uterus is more difficult to remove, increasing the chance of trauma to the surrounding structures and dramatically raising your risk of significant blood loss during surgery.

Your gynecologist may recommend a hormonal treatment to reduce the fibroid’s size before undergoing a hysterectomy. However, you need to take the medication for several months before having surgery, and you could develop many possible side effects. 

Undergoing uterine artery embolization before a hysterectomy is safer and faster than using medication. 

An embolization substantially reduces bleeding and shortens operating time, making surgery safer for you and easier for your surgeon.

What to expect during an embolization

Having an embolization and hysterectomy is a same-day, two-step procedure. We perform the embolization first, and after you recover, you have the hysterectomy.

We make a single, tiny cut in your upper leg, creating an opening just large enough to insert a slim catheter into the blood vessel.

Using imaging to see the blood vessels, we guide the catheter to the uterine artery and release an embolic agent like acrylic polymer spheres or metallic coils.

After we precisely position the embolic agent, it stays in the blood vessel permanently, continuously blocking blood flow. In addition to reducing bleeding during surgery, an embolization helps prevent bleeding afterward.

If you face decisions about fibroid treatment, don’t wait to connect with Georgia Vascular Institute and schedule a consultation. If you’re not a good candidate for uterine fibroid embolization, we can discuss the benefits of embolization before a hysterectomy.