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Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) vs. hysterectomy: A comprehensive comparison

Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous tumors that grow in or on the uterus. They are very common, affecting up to 80% of women by the time they reach menopause.

There are a number of treatment options available for uterine fibroids, including UFE and hysterectomy. UFE is a minimally invasive procedure that blocks the blood supply to the fibroids, causing them to shrink and die. Hysterectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the uterus.

Which treatment option is right for you depends on a number of factors, including:

    • Your age
    • Your desire to have children
    • The size and location of your fibroids
    • Your overall health

Here is a more detailed comparison of UFE and hysterectomy:

Procedure

    • UFE: UFE is a minimally invasive procedure that is performed under general anesthesia. During the procedure, a thin tube is inserted into the groin and threaded up to the arteries that supply blood to the uterus. Small particles are then injected into the arteries, blocking the blood supply to the fibroids.
    • Hysterectomy: Hysterectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the uterus. It can be performed through the abdomen, vagina, or laparoscopically.

Recovery

    • UFE: Recovery from UFE is typically shorter and less painful than recovery from hysterectomy. Most women are able to return to work and normal activities within a few days or weeks of UFE.
    • Hysterectomy: Recovery from hysterectomy can take several weeks or months. Most women are able to return to work and normal activities within 4-6 weeks of a laparoscopic hysterectomy. However, it may take up to 8 weeks to recover from an abdominal hysterectomy.

Risks and complications

  • UFE: The most common risks and complications of UFE include:
    • Pain
    • Bleeding
    • Allergic reaction to the contrast dye used during the procedure
    • Recurrence of fibroids (up to 20%)
  • Hysterectomy: The most common risks and complications of hysterectomy include:
    • Bleeding
    • Injury to nearby organs
    • Blood clots
    • Pain
    • Mood changes
    • Early menopause

Other considerations

    • Fertility: UFE is a uterus-sparing procedure, which means that women who undergo UFE may still be able to have children in the future. Hysterectomy is a permanent solution, so it is only recommended for women who are sure that they do not want to have children in the future.
    • Sexual function: UFE does not affect sexual function. Hysterectomy can affect sexual function, but the extent of the impact depends on the type of hysterectomy performed.

Review the comparison chart below of our uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) vs. traditional hysterectomy.

Our UFE Procedure

vs.

Other Traditional Hysterectomy

Utilizes local anesthesia and light sedation

vs.

Performed under general anethesia

Full recovery in 1 to 2 weeks

vs.

Full recovery in 4 to 8 weeks

Preserves the uterus

vs.

Removes the uterus

Requires one micro incision and no stitches

vs.

Requires more extensive 5-7 inch incision and surgery

Can return home after the procedure

vs.

Requires a few-day hospital stay

Can be used to treat all sizes and locations of fibroids

vs.

Effectively treats all fibroids by removing the uterus

Substantially lower risk for negative effects on hormone function and other organs

vs.

Can affect hormone balance and negatively impact other organs such as the bladder, pelvic floor, bowels or early menopause

Effective at reducing or eliminating fibroids completely

vs.

Fibroids are gone forever, along with the uterus

Which treatment option is right for you?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. The best treatment option for you will depend on your individual circumstances.

If you are considering UFE or hysterectomy, be sure to talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of both procedures. Your doctor can help you to decide which treatment option is right for you.

Additional factors to consider

In addition to the factors listed above, there are a few other things you may want to consider when deciding between UFE and hysterectomy:

    • Cost: UFE is typically less expensive than hysterectomy. However, the cost of either procedure can vary depending on your insurance coverage and the surgeon you choose.
    • Your lifestyle: If you are active and have a busy lifestyle, you may prefer UFE because it has a shorter recovery time. However, if you are retired or have a more sedentary lifestyle, you may be more comfortable with the idea of hysterectomy.
    • Your support system: If you have a strong support system, you may be more comfortable with the longer recovery time associated with hysterectomy. However, if you do not have a lot of support, you may prefer UFE because it has a shorter recovery time.

Ultimately, the decision of whether to undergo UFE or hysterectomy is a personal one. Be sure to review all of your options and weigh the risks and benefits of each procedure before making a decision.

 

90% of women have a positive resolution of fibroid related symptoms after their UFE treatment.

Our vascular board-certified physician will discuss with you whether UFE is a good treatment option for you taking into account your lifestyle, type, size, and position of the fibroids, and any risks they may present.