Many women have heard of uterine fibroids, which are noncancerous growths that can develop on the uterus. They are typically harmless, but they can cause a range of symptoms, including heavy bleeding, pelvic pain, and infertility. A hysterectomy has often been the go-to treatment when the fibroids become problematic, but there is now a minimally invasive alternative: uterine fibroid embolization (UFE). This procedure can help manage fibroids and relieve related symptoms. 

What Are Uterine Fibroids?

Uterine fibroids are benign or noncancerous growths that can grow on the muscular wall of the uterus. They are relatively common in women of reproductive age, with some estimates putting the prevalence as high as 70%. However, not all fibroids cause symptoms, and many women may never know they have them. Fibroids can range in size from tiny, pea-sized nodules to larger growths that can distort the shape of the uterus. They can be located inside the uterus, on its surface, or within the uterine wall.

What Are the Symptoms of Uterine Fibroids?

Some women with uterine fibroids may experience no symptoms, while others may struggle with debilitating symptoms. The most common signs and symptoms of uterine fibroids are:

  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Painful periods
  • Enlarged abdomen or bloating
  • Frequent urination or difficulty emptying the bladder
  • Pain during sex
  • Pelvic pain or pressure

How Is Uterine Fibroid Embolization Performed?

Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) is a safe, highly effective, and minimally invasive procedure that blocks blood flow to the uterine fibroids, causing them to shrink or resolve, resulting in a life-changing reduction in symptoms. During UFE, a catheter is used to inject tiny particles into the arteries that supply the fibroids. The particles block the blood flow, which starves the fibroids of nutrients and causes them to shrink. Because the procedure does not involve any surgical incisions, there is less pain, a shorter recovery time, and lower risks of complications compared to a hysterectomy [LINK TO BLOG ONCE PUBLISHED].

A minimally invasive vascular procedure is generally recommended to any woman who is symptomatic from her fibroids and who wishes to avoid surgical removal of the fibroids (myomectomy) or removal of the entire uterus (hysterectomy).

What Are the Benefits of UFE Over Other Options?

The UFE procedure offers significant advantages over traditional surgical treatments. By employing techniques that minimize incisions and trauma, these procedures eliminate the risks associated with blood loss and extensive surgery. They enable the preservation of vital organs such as the uterus, cervix, and ovaries, ensuring minimal disruption to reproductive health. Patients also experience rapid alleviation of symptoms and can resume their daily activities sooner compared to those undergoing traditional surgery. 

The procedure is performed as an outpatient treatment, allowing patients to return home the same day without the need for hospitalization. UFE is also a safe alternative option for individuals who are not surgical candidates due to conditions like obesity, bleeding disorders, anemia, or religious reasons, offering a versatile and effective alternative.

Is Uterine Fibroid Embolization an Effective Treatment Option?

Several studies have shown that UFE is an effective treatment option with a high level of patient satisfaction. A large randomized controlled trial found that women who underwent UFE reported significant improvement in their symptoms, including menstrual bleeding, pelvic pain, and urinary symptoms. Another study found that 90% of women were able to avoid a hysterectomy by choosing UFE instead. Additionally, the procedure offers a lower risk of complications, a quicker recovery time, and a lower cost than surgery.

Uterine fibroids can cause a range of symptoms in women, and a hysterectomy has typically been the go-to treatment option. However, a minimally invasive procedure called uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) offers a safe and effective alternative for women suffering from fibroid-related symptoms. 
With the advantages of less pain, a shorter recovery time, and lower risks of complications, UFE can be an appealing option for many women. If you’re dealing with uterine fibroids, it’s important to talk to a doctor about all of your treatment options, including UFE. Book a consultation today with our team of expert physicians if you are experiencing symptoms that impact your everyday life, fibroids are making it hard to get pregnant or interfering with your sex life, or if treatment in the past has not been effective in your fibroid management.

Frequently Asked Questions

How successful is uterine fibroid embolization?

Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) is generally considered a highly successful treatment option for women suffering from uterine fibroids. Success rates typically range from 85% to 95%, depending on various factors such as the size and location of the fibroids. 

What are the disadvantages of uterine fibroid embolization?

UFE is a minimally invasive procedure, eliminating a lot of the top concerns and risks often associated with more invasive surgeries. Discuss with a specialized healthcare provider to make an informed decision about what specific treatment option is right for you. Schedule a consultation today!

How long does it take for uterine fibroids to shrink after embolization?

After a UFE procedure, fibroids typically begin to shrink gradually over several months. The timeline for fibroid shrinkage can vary among individuals. Patients should discuss their expectations and follow-up care with a healthcare provider to understand what to expect after UFE.