Uterine Fibroid Embolization

When is it right for you?

Uter­ine fibroids are non-can­cer­ous tumors that grow with­in uter­ine mus­cle tis­sue and are the most com­mon tumor with­in the female repro­duc­tive sys­tem. As a result, all women are at poten­tial risk of devel­op­ing fibroids, with a major­i­ty of cas­es diag­nosed in women between the ages of 35 and 54.

There are 4 types of uter­ine fibroids:

  • Intra­mur­al fibroids — this is the most com­mon type of fibroid, which devel­ops with­in the uter­ine wall
  • Sub­seros­al fibroids — fibroids that devel­op on the out­er uter­ine wall and can con­tin­ue to grow out­ward in size
  • Sub­mu­cos­al fibroids — the least com­mon type of fibroid, devel­ops under the lin­ing of the uter­ine cavity
  • Pedun­cu­lat­ed fibroids — these tumors grow on a stalk, either into the uterus or out­side on the uter­ine wall

Women may have one or mul­ti­ple of these types of fibroids, which can make it chal­leng­ing to deter­mine which fibroid is caus­ing symptoms.

Symp­toms of uter­ine fibroids include exces­sive men­stru­al bleed­ing, pelvic pain and pres­sure, fre­quent uri­na­tion and ane­mia. Many women can live a good qual­i­ty of life with fibroids, some with­out any symp­toms at all.

How­ev­er, women diag­nosed with fibroids by their OB/GYN physi­cian, who expe­ri­ence symp­toms that impact their lives and make dai­ly tasks dif­fi­cult, may be good can­di­dates for a pro­ce­dure called uter­ine fibroid emboliza­tion or UFE.

What is Uter­ine Fibroid Embolization?

Uter­ine fibroid emboliza­tion is a min­i­mal­ly inva­sive pro­ce­dure used to alle­vi­ate symp­toms of uter­ine fibroids and is an alter­na­tive option to removal of indi­vid­ual fibroids (myomec­to­my) or the entire uterus (hys­terec­to­my). An inter­ven­tion­al radi­ol­o­gist (IR) per­forms the pro­ce­dure which takes about two hours. Dur­ing the pro­ce­dure, the IR makes a small skin nick in the groin or wrist to get access to the arter­ies feed­ing the fibroids.

At this point, the IR uses a spe­cial­ized X‑ray to guide a small catheter into the arter­ies of the uterus. Small par­ti­cles, about the size of grains of sand, are then inject­ed into the artery sup­ply­ing blood to the tumor. These par­ti­cles will cut off the blood flow to the fibroid and cause it to shrink.

Uter­ine fibroid emboliza­tion is typ­i­cal­ly per­formed on an out­pa­tient basis with aver­age recov­ery time of one week, much short­er than oth­er more inva­sive pro­ce­dures that require a hos­pi­tal stay. It’s also a very effec­tive pro­ce­dure with an approx­i­mate 90 per­cent suc­cess rate. A vast major­i­ty of women who have this pro­ce­dure expe­ri­ence improve­ment in their symp­toms and decrease in the size of the fibroids, allow­ing them to get back to enjoy­ing nor­mal dai­ly activity.

If you’re expe­ri­enc­ing symp­toms or have been diag­nosed with uter­ine fibroids, please call our Inter­ven­tion­al Radi­ol­o­gy depart­ment at 708−406−3328 or make an online appoint­ment to sched­ule a consultation.