Fibroid Embolization Treatment
Uterine fibroids are benign tumors that form on the uterus. They occur most often in women between the ages of 35 and 50. African-American women and those with a family history are more likely to develop fibroids. Even though these tumors are not malignant, they can cause prolonged bleeding, anemia, abdominal swelling and pelvic pain. They are also the leading cause of hysterectomy in pre-menopausal women. Up to 80 percent of women with fibroids can be treated with uterine fibroid embolization (UFE). For women who do not meet the criteria for the minimally invasive procedure, surgical procedures are available to remove fibroids.
UFE is a non-surgical radiology procedure that may help reduce inflammation and pain from uterine fibroids. In this procedure, the physician makes a tiny incision in the crease between the lower abdomen and the top of the thigh, and introduces a catheter into the femoral artery. Using X-ray guidance, the catheter is directed to the artery that supplies blood to the non-cancerous fibroid tumors. Tiny particles, about the size of a salt crystal, are injected into the artery. The particles block the small arteries that supply blood and oxygen to the tumors causing them to die and shrink over a period of months.
It takes 30 to 60 minutes to perform a uterine artery embolization. Most patients are discharged from the hospital the morning after the procedure, while those with the mildest symptoms may be discharged even earlier.