Uterine fibroids (also known as leiomyomas) are benign growths in the uterus that commonly affect women of childbearing age. Although the majority of fibroids are non-cancerous, they can grow large enough to cause serious issues like severe pelvic pain, heavy bleeding, bloating, urinary and bowel issues and even fertility problems.
Traditionally, the most common treatment for fibroids was a hysterectomy, a major surgery that removes the uterus entirely. Another common treatment is a myomectomy, which removes fibroids and reconstructs the uterus. Myomectomy can cause fertility issues, especially if numerous fibroids are removed.
Both of these surgeries require the use of general anesthesia and carry risks such as excessive bleeding and infection. As a result, many women with fibroids are searching for less invasive treatment options that don’t affect fertility, require major incisions or carry as many risks. Among those treatment options is a procedure called uterine fibroid embolization.
The Fibroid Center at Georgia Vascular Institute offers state-of-the-art treatments for uterine fibroids, including uterine fibroid embolization.
Here’s what you should know about this procedure.
Also known as uterine artery embolization (UAE), uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) is a minimally invasive procedure that shrinks uterine fibroids by cutting off their blood supply.
During the procedure, an interventional radiologist will use a form of x-ray called fluoroscopy to guide a small catheter through the femoral artery to the blood vessels that feed uterine fibroids.
Embolic particles are then injected through the catheter tube into the blood vessels, effectively blocking the blood supply to uterine fibroids. Without a blood supply, the fibroids shrink.
UFE has been shown to reduce negative fibroid symptoms in the majority of women who undergo the procedure.
One of the main benefits of UFE is that it preserves fertility.
Unlike surgical interventions like hysterectomy and myomectomy, UFE requires no cutting or incisions to the uterus and does not leave problematic scar tissue that can make implantation difficult.
As fibroids shrink following UFE, fertility may actually improve.
Serious complications with uterine fibroid embolization are extremely rare. However, there are risks to be aware of as you move forward with the procedure.
Rare complications associated with uterine fibroid embolization:
- Infection in degenerating fibroid
- Infection at the puncture site (spot where the catheter is fed into the femoral artery during the procedure)
- Hematoma at puncture site
- Injury to the uterus
Some women experience postembolization syndrome, which may cause nausea, pelvic cramping and fever.
Unlike surgical treatments for fibroids, UFE requires very little recovery time.
Typically, it takes only 7 to 10 days to make a full recovery.
Georgia Vascular Institute in Stockbridge, GA is one of the most trusted uterine fibroid treatment centers in the state.
Contact us today to learn more about uterine fibroid embolization or to schedule your appointment.