What is Uterine Fibroid Embolization and How Does It Work?

Before uterine fibroid embolization, the only real alternative for the removal of uterine fibroid growth was major surgical processes such as a myomectomy or a hysterectomy. Naturally, these are life-changing corrective procedures that can involve long recovery periods. Alternatively, uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) requires minimal or no hospital stay and allows women the option of a less evasive, non-surgical way to eradicate troublesome fibroids that can otherwise cause heavy bleeding and pain. So what is UFE and how does it work?

Uterine Fibroid Embolization – What is it?

In essence, UFE is a radiological procedure involving the blockage of the blood supply in associated arteries that feed the fibroid. This results in considerable tumor shrinkage over a period of months to a point where the patient no longer suffers any fibroid-related symptoms such as frequent urination, pelvic pressure, and heavy uterine bleeding, In fact, in addition to an 85% success rate, this procedure has been proven to eradicate the problem of heavy bleeding in as many as 90% of cases

So now you know what uterine fibroid embolization is, let’s take a closer look at how this remarkable process works…

UFE is in effect a keyhole treatment that involves placing a catheter or thin tube either into the leg or the wrist. A fluoroscopic X-ray is then used to directly guide the tube into those blood vessels that are known to supply the fibroid.

Once in position, tiny but safe particles of polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) are injected into those areas via the catheter. These particles then build up to form a barrier, stopping or blocking any blood flow from reaching the fibroid.

Over a period of 6-9 months, the fibroid begins to starve and shrink in a similar way to how fibroids start to shrink after menopause. The results are usually pretty dramatic with reduced bleeding and little or no pain during subsequent menstrual cycles. In addition, as the fibroid shrinks, less pressure is placed on pelvic and bladder areas so much of the associated discomfort is also removed.

What about after uterine fibroid embolization treatment – What should I expect?

Unlike major surgical treatments such as a hysterectomy, patients recover pretty quickly after undergoing UFE treatment. However, it is normal to experience pelvic pain or pressure for several days as well as decreased energy levels and chills, similar to how you might feel if you had a cold or flu. These are normal post-treatment symptoms that typically disappear within 7-10 days. To help deal with this, patients are prescribed medication to be taken at home over the coming days in order to aid a speedy recovery. 

Because uterine fibroid embolization is a long-term process designed to shrink the fibroid or fibroids over time, patients won’t see immediate results. That said, improvements are usually noticeable after 2-3 months. The first menstrual cycle after UFE is normally heavier than normal and there may be some breakthrough bleeding between cycles within the first few weeks. However, as time passes, patients will start to see a difference. Approximately 85% – 90% will see a huge improvement of their symptoms after 6-9 months while 5%-10% of patients may require another round of fibroid embolization treatment or other alternative treatment to improve symptoms further.

With regard to complications, the risks involving this type of treatment are rare and affect less than 1% of all cases. Problems can include infection of the uterus, allergic reactions and in some cases, blood vessel damage. That said, risks can be reduced even further by seeking out an experienced physician or practitioner, well-versed in carrying out the latest uterine fibroid embolization treatment.

If you are currently suffering from fibroids and are seeking out a safe non-surgical alternative to invasive and surgical processes such as myomectomy or hysterectomy, then come and talk to the team at the Midwest Institute for Non-Surgical Therapy (MINT).

With little or no scarring and speedy recovery time, most patients are able to resume normal activities within just 7-10 days after treatment. We have several convenient and modern locations in the St Louis area for you to choose from, so why not Call Dr. Akinwande today to find out more. Remember, you don’t have to put up with painful fibroids. With our uterine fibroid embolization treatment, we can help you to get your life back on track!

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