Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) is a minimally invasive procedure designed to treat uterine fibroids, offering relief from symptoms such as heavy menstrual bleeding and pelvic pain. In this article, we will walk you through the entire process of what to expect during uterine fibroid embolization, from pre-procedure preparation to post-procedure recovery. 

Whether you’re considering UFE or simply seeking more information about uterine fibroid treatment options, this guide will provide valuable insights to help you navigate your journey toward better uterine health.

Understanding Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE)

To understand UFE, you must be aware of its definition, the criteria used to determine suitable candidates, and the differences between UFE and UAE.

What is Uterine Fibroid Embolization?

Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) is a minimally invasive procedure used to treat uterine fibroids. During UFE, tiny particles are injected into the blood vessels that supply the fibroids, blocking their blood flow and causing them to shrink. This procedure effectively alleviates symptoms such as heavy menstrual bleeding and pelvic pain, providing an alternative to surgery with shorter recovery times and less risk.

Who are Suitable Candidates for Uterine Fibroid Embolization?

Suitable candidates for Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) typically include women experiencing symptoms from uterine fibroids, such as heavy menstrual bleeding, pelvic pain, or pressure. Those seeking a non-surgical option or those with fibroids causing fertility issues may also benefit from UFE. Candidacy depends on individual factors, which should be discussed with a healthcare provider specializing in fibroid treatment.

Uterine Fibroid Embolization vs. Uterine Artery Embolization

Uterine Fibroid Embolization and Uterine Artery Embolization (UAE) are essentially interchangeable terms referring to the same procedure. Both methods involve injecting tiny particles into the blood vessels that supply fibroids, effectively cutting off their blood flow and causing them to shrink. The decision to use one term over the other may vary based on regional or individual preferences within the medical community.

Preparing for Uterine Fibroid Embolization

Here is what you need to know when preparing for UFE to ensure a smooth experience:

Consultation and Evaluation Process for UFE

The consultation and evaluation process for UFE can be broken down into the following steps:

  1. Initial Consultation
  2. Medical History Assessment
  3. Physical Examination
  4. Assessment of Fibroid Size, Number, and Location via MRI and Ultrasound
  5. Discussion of Treatment Options
  6. Consent Process

After these steps are completed and consent is agreed upon by the healthcare provider and patient, the procedure will be scheduled.

Pre-procedure Instructions for UFE

Before your UFE treatment, you may have the following pre-procedure instructions:

  • Fasting: Patients are often instructed to refrain from eating or drinking for a specified period before the procedure, usually starting the night before or several hours prior to the scheduled appointment. This helps reduce the risk of complications related to anesthesia and sedation during the procedure.
  • Medication Management: In the days leading up to UFE, patients may be advised to adjust their medication regimen. This may involve discontinuing certain medications that could interfere with the procedure or cause complications, such as blood thinners or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
  • Arrangements for Transportation: Since sedation or anesthesia is often used during UFE, patients are usually advised not to drive themselves home after the procedure. Arrangements should be made for someone else to drive them to and from the medical facility.
  • Clothing: Patients may be advised to wear loose, comfortable clothing to the procedure, and bring along any necessary personal items such as insurance cards, identification, and a list of medications.
what to expect uterine fibroid embolization

The Procedure: What Happens During Uterine Fibroid Embolization

Here’s a step-by-step overview of the Uterine Fibroid Embolization procedure:


The patient is prepared for the procedure, which may involve changing into a hospital gown. During the procedure, an IV line is inserted into a vein in the patient’s arm to administer medications and fluids.


Depending on the case, the patient may receive local anesthesia and/or conscious sedation to keep them comfortable and relaxed during the procedure. In some cases, general anesthesia may be used, rendering the patient unconscious for the duration of the procedure.

Arterial Access

A small incision is made in the groin area to access the femoral artery using a needle and guide wire under fluoroscopic guidance. A catheter (thin, flexible tube) is then inserted through the incision and threaded up to the arteries supplying blood to the uterus.

Imaging and Mapping

Contrast dye is injected through the catheter to visualize the blood vessels and map out the arteries feeding the fibroids. This helps the interventional radiologist precisely target the blood vessels supplying the fibroids while sparing surrounding healthy tissue.


Small particles (usually made of tiny beads or coils) are injected through the catheter and into the blood vessels supplying the fibroids. These particles block the blood flow to the fibroids, causing them to shrink and die over time.

Post-Embolization Imaging

Additional imaging may be performed to confirm the successful embolization of the targeted blood vessels and assess the extent of fibroid infarction.


After the procedure, the catheter is removed, and pressure is applied to the incision site to prevent bleeding. The patient is monitored closely for a few hours in a recovery area to ensure stability before being discharged home.

This step-by-step overview provides a general outline of what to expect during a Uterine Fibroid Embolization procedure. Actual procedures may vary slightly depending on individual patient factors.

Immediate Aftercare and Recovery from UFE

Following Uterine Fibroid Embolization, patients typically experience some degree of discomfort and may have side effects as the body responds to the procedure. Immediate aftercare involves closely monitoring for any complications and managing symptoms to ensure a smooth recovery. 

Common side effects include:

  • Cramping
  • Pelvic pain
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue

These side effects can typically be managed with over-the-counter pain medications, rest, and hydration. Patients should follow their healthcare provider’s instructions regarding medication usage, activity restrictions, and follow-up appointments. 

While some discomfort and minor side effects are normal in the days following UFE, patients should promptly report any severe pain, excessive bleeding, fever, or other concerning symptoms to their healthcare provider. With proper aftercare and attention, most patients can expect to gradually improve and resume normal activities within a few days to weeks after UFE.

Move Forward with UFE Confidently

If you are located near the Tampa, New Port Richey, or Phoenix areas, United Fibroid & Vascular Centers can perform your UFE treatments. Our experts use state-of-the-art laser technology to eliminate symptoms such as pelvic pain, pressure, and discomfort for women.

Schedule a fibroid treatment consultation to learn more.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does fibroid removal embolization take?

The duration of fibroid removal embolization, or Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE), typically ranges from 1 to 3 hours. However, this can vary depending on factors such as the number, size, and location of the fibroids, as well as the patient’s individual anatomy and response to the procedure. It’s important for patients to discuss the expected duration with their healthcare provider prior to the procedure.

Do you get put under anesthesia during UFE?

During Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE), patients often receive conscious sedation or general anesthesia to ensure comfort throughout the procedure. Conscious sedation induces a relaxed state while allowing the patient to remain responsive, whereas general anesthesia renders the patient unconscious. The choice between the two depends on factors such as patient preference, medical history, and the complexity of the procedure, and is determined in consultation with the healthcare provider.

How effective is UFE for uterine fibroids?

Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) is highly effective in treating uterine fibroids, with success rates ranging from 85% to 95%. This minimally invasive procedure effectively reduces fibroid size, alleviates symptoms such as heavy menstrual bleeding and pelvic pain, and improves overall quality of life for many patients. While individual outcomes may vary, UFE offers a safe and durable alternative to surgery with fewer risks and a shorter recovery period.