Uterine artery embolization (UAE), also called called uterine fibroid embolization (UFE), gives significant symptom relief to about 85% to 90% of women who have it.
In this procedure, your doctor blocks blood flow to fibroids with small, non-allergenic beads. The uterus typically recovers, but the fibroids don't.
The Benefits of Fibroid Embolization
This procedure has provided safe, effective fibroid treatment for over 20 years. You'll benefit from:
- A quick procedure that lasts less than an hour
- Recovering fast, from five days to two weeks
- No need for general anesthesia
- Your uterus left intact
A few weeks after the procedure, your fibroid symptoms will start to disappear.
What Happens During UAE?
An interventional radiologist uses fluoroscopy to see inside you. Fluoroscopy provides a live-stream X-ray video. This video guides the radiologist to perform the procedure with accuracy.
UAE begins with a small incision, usually near the groin. This gives the doctor access to the femoral artery in the thigh. Next, the doctor inserts a catheter into the artery, guiding it to the fibroid being treated. Once in position at the base of the blood vessel that feeds the fibroid, the catheter is used to inject small beads into the blood vessel, causing the vein to clot. The beads block the flow of blood to the fibroid, causing it to shrink and die. This process is repeated until all the blood vessels to all the fibroids have been successfully blocked. At that point, the doctor removes the catheter and places a bandage over the small incision.
UAE Possible Side Effects
You can expect some pelvic pain after the procedure. You may have to take pain medications for several days. One in five women experience a recurrence of their symptoms within five years of the treatment.
Although most women can still conceive, the effects of UAE on childbearing and pregnancy isn't known at this time.
There is a slight risk that the procedure could cause early menopause by blocking blood flow to the ovaries. There's a very small risk for a severe infection or not enough blood flow to the uterus, which could require a hysterectomy (about a 1 in 500 risk).