What is Uterine Fibroid Embolization?

Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) is a minimally invasive procedure to treat fibroids, a uterine tumor. Fibroids are the most common uterine tumor in the female reproductive system. These benign muscular tumors are found in 25-40% of all women and can cause significant symptoms, such as pelvic pain, heavy menstrual bleeding, cramping, and pressure on pelvic organs such as the urinary bladder and intestines.

Until recently, fibroids were typically treated by performing a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus). Today, one option of treatment involves our interventional radiologist guiding a small catheter through the femoral artery to the uterine arteries. He then injects small inert particles to block the supply of blood to the uterine fibroids, ultimately causing them to shrink. The procedure has been performed on many thousands of women over the past 10 years with well documented success rates in medical literature.

For more information on this and other radiology procedures, please visit www.radiologyinfo.org.

Who needs a Uterine Fibroid Embolization?

Determining whether you are an appropriate candidate for uterine fibroid embolization requires careful consideration of all options and the opportunity for a physician to answer your questions.  The procedure is safe and effective in most appropriately selected patients, who are screened by physical examination, gynecological history and MRI imaging prior to the procedure. The decision to proceed with uterine fibroid embolization will be made by you and the physicians responsible for your care.

What should I expect?

The procedure takes about two hours to complete, after which you will be admitted to the hospital overnight for observation. The procedure itself is not painful and occurs while you are awake and comfortable with the use of intravenous sedation. Any discomfort following the procedure is controlled with the use of narcotic analgesia given in timed doses triggered by the patient. Generally, you will receive a full liquid diet the day of the procedure. On the morning following the procedure, you may eat a regular diet and oral medications are substituted for intravenous medications. You will likely be discharged the day following the procedure, and follow up phone numbers and appointments will be given at that time. We recommend that you limit activities for 24-48 hours after discharge, and you may return to work one week following the procedure. Six months after the procedure, you will be scheduled for a follow-up MRI scan to confirm the success of the procedure.