dp Uterine Fibroid Embolization | Non-Surgical Fibroids Treatment

Uterine Fibroid Embolization

What is Uterine Fibroid Embolization?

Uterine Fibroid Embolization (non-surgical fibroid treatment) has existed as a medical procedure since 1975. In gynecology, it was used to reduce bleeding during uterine surgery. Founding members of the Fibroid Treatment Collective noticed another important effect. It shrank fibroids. The promise of an effective, non-invasive treatment for fibroids without surgery led to research, trials and medical acceptance. Today more than several hundred thousand women worldwide have found relief with this safe, simple procedure. The Fibroid Treatment Collective and its fibroid surgeons performed the very first uterine fibroid embolization in America and have authored many important articles on the subject.

“Honestly I would say if you have fibroids, please take control of your body, of your life, do the research, because there are options.”

UFE Success Rate

UFE  has an overall success rate of 94%. This means 94% of all patients who had the procedure experienced relief from their fibroid symptoms and significant fibroid shrinkage.

  • The majority of our embolization patients experienced immediate relief from heavy bleeding
  • Most experienced 50-60 percent shrinkage in fibroid size within 6 months
  • Half of our embolization patients under 40 years of age were able to conceive post-procedure
  • Nearly all of our embolization patients return to work in less than a week

The Procedure in Detail

Before fibroid embolization, every patient is thoroughly evaluated to ensure the procedure is appropriate for them. This includes a review of medical history, general physical condition, and any other information pertinent to the case.

Next, the patient undergoes complete pelvic imaging, either ultrasound or MRI, to measure the size of the uterus and to look for any other conditions that might be affecting their health.

After embolization, patients are evaluated within the first week, again at six weeks and once more at six months to see how the fibroids are shrinking.

Fibroid Embolization Explained

Uterine Artery Embolization (UAE) is a non-invasive, non-surgical, out-patient procedure. It is performed under local anesthetic and sedation and has a very quick recovery time. Most patients are back at work in a few days.

Live EmbolizationLive Uterine Artery Embolization

A very informative look at a real patient’s embolization from start to finish. » Watch Video

An incision the size of a freckle is made in the upper thigh. A tiny catheter is inserted through this incision and into the femoral artery. Using x-ray guidance, a trained physician locates the arteries which supply blood to each fibroid. Microscopic inert particles are injected into the vessels, blocking blood supply that nourishes the fibroid. Without a blood supply, the fibroids begin to dwindle and shrink.

Embolization basically cures fibroids without surgery by starving them.

Why should you undergo a UFE procedure?

Most women choose to undergo a UFE procedure in order to reduce the side effects associated with uterine fibroids. Besides pain, some of the common side effects of uterine fibroids include spotting, irregular menstruation, heavy menstruation, irregular uterine bleeding, cramping, and a distended abdomen. Less common side effects of uterine fibroids include pressure in the pelvis, constipation, frequent urination, and leg pains. Pains from uterine fibroids tend to afflict the abdomen, the pelvis, and the lower back. In some cases, uterine fibroids also result in painful menstruation.

Sometimes, depending on their size and location, uterine fibroids can lead to infertility or pregnancy complications. While these negative effects are fairly rare, many women prefer to be safe than sorry when it comes to their well-being and the health of their unborn child. Women with uterine fibroids who hope to conceive are advised to either treat the fibroids or have children early. This is because uterine fibroids can grow in size throughout a woman’s life. At a later age, the uterine fibroids may be large enough to impact fertility. However, uterine fibroids tend to decrease in size once a women enters menopause.

Benefits of UFE Procedures

The benefits of UFE procedures convince many women to undergo this procedure rather than others that are also designed to serve as treatment for uterine fibroids. Some of the many advantages of UFE procedures are as follows:

1. Relief from Heavy Menstrual Bleeding

Positive Effect of Fibroid Embolization99 percent of patients have immediate relief from heavy menstrual bleeding after UFE and return to work less than a week after the procedure. Many women report their period is shorter than it was prior to embolization.  In addition, women who undergo UFE will generally have much lighter periods.  They can feel confident knowing that these agonizing and unusually heavy menstrual periods will cease after the UFE. A few may experience irregular menstrual cycles between 3 to 6 months after UFE.  However, the possibility of this still occurring is less than 1 percent for women below the age of 40 and around 10 percent for women who are over 45.   Overall, improvements to the menstrual cycle are remarkable, as well as the freedom and flexibility of not having to worry about or plan for the inconvenience of a heavy period.

2. Alleviate Chronic Pain

Some women with fibroids may experience agonizing periods, slight aches in their thighs, back pain or a bloating or fullness feeling in their lower stomach area. Fibroids and pain each point to a different warning signaling from the body. For example, menstrual cramps during a period may be common for some individuals, but for women with fibroids, this pain may be due to large clots of blood pushing through the cervix. Cramps may also be a result of the uterus trying to push out a submucosal fibroid that is in the cavity of the uterus.  Also, some fibroids become so big they begin to push on nerves and blood vessels that extend out to the legs, which causes significant leg pain and discomfort. A wonderful benefit of UFE is that the pain you associate with fibroids dwindles within a brief length of time post-procedure.

3. Diminish Anemia

Menorrhagia, the heavy menstrual bleeding people associate with fibroids, can cause women to become anemic, sometimes to the point of requiring a blood transfusion. Fatigue and dizzyness is common for women due to their anemia and fibroids. This is due to the loss of iron which carries oxygen throughout the bloodstream.  However, once the fibroids are eliminated, heavy bleeding will diminish.  As a result, your body is able to recover and you can build up your iron reserves gradually, without the threat of further heavy blood loss.

Fibroids and Sex4. Eliminate Discomfort from Sex

Fibroid symptoms such as heavy bleeding, pelvic pain, uncontrollable urination, and bloating, can make sex less than a pleasurable experience. Since fibroids shrink soon after UFE, the pain and discomfort from sex and fibroids generally improves. Additionally, the removal of the fibroids allows the uterus to better contract. This results in a woman’s sexual experience notably improving after UFE. Perhaps most important, UFE has little to no effect on a woman’s hormonal status. As the level of sexual desire is typically maintains rather than decreases.

5. Increase in Body Image

Many women notice a significant change in how their body, particularly their abdomen, looks after the procedure.  While before UFE, many women have a noticeable “pooch” or rounded belly where the enlarged uterus protrudes, the abdomen is noticeably flatter and smoother after UFE.  In many cases, the fibroid, or fibroids, decrease to a size where they no longer are outwardly visible. However, depending on the size of the fibroid(s) and the amount of time it takes for them to shrink, there is still the chance that a slight protrusion in the abdominal area will remain for some women.

6. Fibroid Shrinkage

Uterine fibroid embolization has an overall success rate of 94 percent. This means 94 percent of patients experienced 50 to 60 percent shrinkage of their fibroids. After UFE, the embolized fibroid begins the process of shrinking. It immediately loses its supply of oxygen, blood, and nutrients. Over the subsequent weeks and months, individual muscle cells in the fibroid die off and are replaced by scar tissue. This scar tissue is about half as big as the original fibroid, or slightly smaller. Because scar tissue is not influenced by hormonal stimulation like fibroids are, the normal menstrual cycle no longer causes fibroids to grow, resulting in lighter periods, less pain, and less pressure.

7. Pregnancy

Uterine Fibroid EmbolizationPregnancy and fibroids can be a challenge.  For many women, the ultimate goal of fibroid treatment is conceiving and maintaining a pregnancy, and ultimately delivering a healthy baby.  Statistics show that between 39 and 48 percent of patients who attempt to conceive after UFE were successful. Further, since UFE causes no changes to a woman’s hormonal status, the factors necessary to stimulate and nurture a new pregnancy are not compromised. One of the benefits of UFE is that while fibroids die due to the blocking of blood supply. Simultaneously, the uterus itself is not affected.  The uterus still maintains a healthy blood supply for supporting a healthy pregnancy.  Finally, since there’s no fibroid re-growth after UFE, women of child-bearing age can try to get pregnant. This is in contrast to racing against the clock in case their fibroids reoccur.

Minimal Effects Of UFE

Embolization is a minimally invasive and very safe procedure, but some side effects and risks are associated. Post-procedure cramping is the most common but usually controlled by pain-killers. Other side effects include:

  • Nausea and fever in 1% of patients
  • Infection leading to hysterectomy in less than .1% of patients
  • Artery injury in less than .1%
  • Early menopause in less than 4%
  • The possible passage of fibroid vaginally in 2%
  • Non-target embolization, extremely rare
Embolization Animation VideoAnimation of Uterine Artery Embolization

Visual animation explaining fibroids and a uterine fibroid embolization procedure. » Watch Video

Embolization Helped Sonia Get Her Confidence Back

As a small woman Sonia couldn’t understand why she could never get rid of her “pooch.” She soon learned it was due to fibroids. After having Embolization, Sonia was able to get her confidence back and feel great in a two piece bathing suit!

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