If you suffer from uterine fibroid symptoms, such as heavy menstrual bleeding, pelvic pain, severe bloating or constant pressure on the bowel and bladder, one of the most successful treatments for eradicating fibroids is uterine fibroid embolization – or UFE for short.
UFE is a non-surgical alternative to surgical treatments such as a myomectomy (the removal of the fibroid or fibroids) or a hysterectomy (the removal of part or all of the uterus).
During this minimally invasive process, synthetic materials known as embolic agents are passed through a catheter towards the targeted fibroid. Once they reach their destination, they work to cut off the blood supply to the fibroid and eventually, it will die.
Post-treatment, patients can expect to return to normal activities within one to two weeks and see a decrease in symptoms within a few months.
In other treatments, surgical processes are performed to remove the fibroid altogether. And in the case of a hysterectomy, all or part of the uterus is removed. But when a patient is treated with uterine fibroid embolization, the fibroid remains in the body. So what happens to it after undergoing UFE therapy?
Because the fibroid is starved of blood, it will start to shrink and soften over several months. Any dead fibroid tissue is then naturally absorbed by the body. During the shrinking process, patients may notice cramping, mild nausea, slight bleeding between periods, or even miss a cycle altogether. This is nothing to be alarmed at and shows that the process is working.
Because all patients are different, some may notice a change during their subsequent menstrual cycle, while for others, it can take longer. Regardless, most people see a 90% reduction in symptoms within six months.
In a word, no! Uterine fibroid embolization will not get rid of the fibroid altogether. However, treatment should shrink the fibroid sufficiently so that it won’t be a problem and most or all of the symptoms disappear. Typically, patients can expect a 50% reduction in fibroid size.
Your physician may ask you to track symptoms, as this is an excellent way to assess how well treatment is progressing. Inevitably, symptoms will improve as the fibroid shrinks, and most people will see a significant difference and long-lasting relief after undergoing UFE.
Follow-up studies over several years show that it is very rare for a treated fibroid to regrow or for new fibroids to develop. Although the intentional blockage caused by the embolic agents is only temporary, fibroids typically die off before any blood flow is restored.
Evidence suggests that only 5% of all cases treated with uterine fibroid embolization will need repeated treatment to improve symptoms. For all intent and purposes, UFE treatment is a proven and effective way of eradicating fibroids while dealing with symptom-related issues.
Most literature tells us that UFE therapy targets fibroids of any size within the uterus, but this should be taken cautiously. Some studies have reported thresholds in UFE treatment in fibroids over 10 cm in diameter. However, giant fibroids such as these are rare. Instead, measurements suggest that larger fibroids exceed 6cm; in these cases, and those of smaller fibroid sizes, uterine fibroid embolization can help.
If you have:
or any other symptoms associated with problematic fibroids, don’t suffer in silence. Come and talk to the team at the Mid-west Institute for Non-Surgical Therapy (MINT)
We are the only dedicated uterine fibroid center in St Louis, and our vascular and endovascular specialist Dr. Akinwande has been performing this ground-breaking, minimally-invasive, non-surgical treatment for several years.
He will take the time to talk to you about your condition and how the procedure works. He will also answer questions about any aspect of the UFE process, like what happens to a fibroid after UFE treatment.
So, if you need further information about any aspect of UFE and whether it’s right for you, call today at 314-255-2204 or request an appointment online.