Uterine artery embolization (also known as Uterine fibroid embolization; UFE; UAE) is a procedure to treat fibroids without surgery. Uterine fibroids are noncancerous (benign) tumors that establish in the uterus (womb). During the procedure, the blood supply of the fibroids is cut off. This typically causes the fibroids to shrink.
UAE is done by a doctor called an interventional radiologist. You will be awake, however you will not feel pain. This is called conscious sedation. The procedure takes about 1 to 3 hours. The procedure is generally done this way:
- You receive a sedative. This is medication that makes you unwinded and sleepy.
- A local painkiller (anesthetic) is applied to the skin around your groin. This numbs the area so you do not feel pain.
- The radiologist makes a small cut (incision) in your skin. A thin tube (catheter) is inserted into your femoral artery. This artery is at the top of your leg.
- The radiologist threads the catheter into your uterine artery. This artery supplies blood to the uterus.
- Little plastic or gelatin particles are injected through the catheter into the capillary that supply blood to the fibroids. These particles block the blood supply to the tiny arteries that carry blood to the fibroids. Without this blood supply, the fibroids diminish and die.
- UAE is done in both your left and right uterine arteries through the exact same cut. If needed, more than 1 fibroid is dealt with.
Why You Need Uterine Artery Embolization?
UAE is a reliable method to treat symptoms brought on by some types of fibroids. Discuss with your healthcare service provider whether this procedure is most likely to be successful for you.
Women who have UAE might:
- Have symptoms consisting of bleeding, low blood count, pelvic pain or pressure, awakening in the evening to urinate, and constipation
- Have actually already attempted medicines or hormones to lower symptoms
- Sometimes have UAE after childbirth to treat really heavy vaginal bleeding
UAE is typically safe. Risks of any intrusive procedure are:
- A bad reaction to the anesthetic or medicine that is used
Risks of UAE are:
- Injury to an artery or to the uterus.
- Failure to diminish the fibroids or effectively treat the symptoms.
- Possible issues with a future pregnancy. Women who want to conceive ought to carefully discuss this procedure with their service provider, because it may reduce the possibilities of a successful pregnancy.
- Lack of menstrual periods.
- Problems with ovarian function or premature menopause.
- Failure to diagnose and remove an unusual kind of cancer that can grow in fibroids (leiomyosarcoma). Many fibroids are noncancerous (benign), but leiomyosarcomas occur in a little number of fibroids. Embolization will not treat or detect this condition and can lead to postponed medical diagnosis, and perhaps an even worse result once it is dealt with.
Before the Procedure
Always tell your supplier:
- If you might be pregnant, or you prepare to become pregnant in the future
- What medicines you are taking, including medications, supplements, or herbs you bought without a prescription
Prior to UAE:
- You may be asked to stop taking aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), warfarin (Coumadin), and any other medications that make it difficult for your blood to clot.
- Ask your doctor which medicines you ought to still handle the day of your surgery.
- If you smoke, attempt to stop. Your service provider can provide you recommendations and details to help you stop.
On the day of UAE:
- You may be asked not to drink or eat anything for 6 to 8 hours prior to this procedure.
- Take the medicines your doctor told you to take with a small sip of water.
- Show up on time at the healthcare facility as instructed.
You may stay in the healthcare facility overnight. Or you may go home the exact same day. You will get pain medicine. You will be advised to lie flat for 4 to 6 hours after the procedure. Follow other guidelines about taking care of yourself after you go home.
Moderate to severe abdominal and pelvic cramps are common for the first 24 hours after the procedure. They may last for a few days to 2 weeks. Cramps might be severe and might last more than 6 hours at a time. The majority of women recover quickly and have the ability to go back to normal activities within 7 to 10 days. In some cases parts of the dealt with fibroid tissue might pass through your vaginal area.
UAE works well to decrease pain, pressure, and bleeding from fibroids in a lot of women who have the procedure. UAE is less invasive than surgical treatments for uterine fibroids. Numerous women may return more quickly to activities than after surgery. The majority of studies reveal that some women require additional procedures to completely treat their symptoms. These procedures include hysterectomy (surgery to remove the uterus), myomectomy (surgery to remove the fibroid) or repeating the UAE.