Uterine artery embolisation for fibroids

Uterine artery embolisation for fibroids

Uterine fibroids are benign tumors of muscle tissue that arise from the wall of the uterus. They are usually asymptomatic but can cause pain, abnormal bleeding, urinary frequency, constipation, a feeling of abdominal bloating and pain during intercourse. Fibroids may also result in infertility.

Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) has been performed since the early 1990's and provides an alternative, non-surgical treatment that is effective and does not require removal of the uterus or major surgery.




The procedure is performed by a specially trained interventional radiologist.  A small catheter is introduced through the artery in the groin and positioned into the arteries that feed the uterus. Tiny particles are injected into the arteries to stop blood flow. The muscular wall of the uterus tolerates this well with no ill effects, but the fibroid deprived of its blood supply dies. Over time it will shrink as much as 70% allowing for improvement or complete resolution of symptoms. The procedure takes about an hour to perform. 

After the examination:
Most patients will stay in the hospital overnight as some post-embolization pain is expected. Discharge the following day is usual and patients resume their pre-procedure activity levels in 7-10 days. UFE is not major surgery and the recovery time is considerably shorter than for hysterectomy, which can be as long as 3 months.

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