Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) is a non-surgical, minimally invasive treatment that shrinks fibroids and provides relief. Performed by an Interventional Radiologist, UFE is 90 percent effective in reducing symptoms caused by fibroids. Up to 75 percent of all women may have uterine fibroids, but many are unaware they have them because there are no symptoms. For many years, the standard treatment for most women with uterine fibroids was hysterectomy. By choosing hysterectomy, the patient agrees to have her uterus surgically removed, which permanently eliminates the risk of fibroids. For women who have childbirth plans, hysterectomy is obviously not recommended. But it is the only treatment option that guarantees the fibroids won’t regrow. That said, it’s best as a last resort when all other treatment options are unsuccessful. Though many patients have heard of UFE – it’s been available for more than 20 years – they may not be entirely sure what the process entails. Here’s what you can expect if you choose to undergo UFE:
- You arrive at the hospital or facility the morning of the out-patient procedure. You are put under local anesthetic and sedation.
- A tiny incision is made in your upper thigh and a catheter is inserted through it into the femoral artery. Your interventional radiologist locates the arteries that supply blood to each fibroid by using a tiny x-ray. Your physician then injects microscopic inert particles into the vessels to block blood supply. The fibroids will then start to shrink. The entire process takes between one and three hours.
- You’ll wake up feeling a bit sore and possibly having some strong cramping, which is normal. The cramping may last for a few days. One simple way to relieve pressure is to empty your bladder frequently. As for the incision, the pain is minimal and you’ll soon have difficulty even locating the scar on your leg.
- Total recovery time takes approximately seven to ten days. You’ll experience some tiredness and muscle stiffness, and that’s normal. If you notice anything unusual, such as fever or severe cramping, contact your doctor.
- You should see a reduction in your menstruation cycle, notably a shortened duration and less bleeding. For most women, this is the most noteworthy change. Women who have had cycles lasting as long as two weeks have seen them cut in half.
- Dyspareunia, or pain during intercourse, is a common symptom of uterine fibroids. Most women can resume intercourse after about two weeks without pain. You may experience slight cramping after, but that will dissipate over time.
- If your uterus was visibly enlarged, you should see a reduction in size within a couple of months. You should also experience less overall pressure and pain in your bladder and lower back. If you were experiencing frequent constipation, that should diminish, too.