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FROM UVA RADIOLOGY & MEDICAL IMAGING

What Is: Uterine Fibroid Embolization

A graphic showing the basic elements of Uterine Fibroid Embolization

Women with severe uterine fibroids often feel pressure to downplay their symptoms because of the shame they feel. Shame over not being able to control their bodies. Shame over needing to know where the closest bathroom is at all times. 

But it doesn’t have to be that way. If you deal with any of these difficulties, you should know about the available treatment options, especially an option like Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE).


 

Understanding UFE

Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE)-also called Uterine Artery Embolization (UAE)- is an Interventional Radiology procedure used to treat uterine fibroids. During UFE, an interventional radiologist uses fluoroscopy to see inside the patient, helping them guide their instruments precisely to the fibroids as they perform the procedure.

UFE begins with a small incision, usually near the groin, allowing the doctor access to the femoral artery. Next, the doctor inserts a catheter into the artery, guiding it to the fibroid being treated. Once in position at the base of the blood vessel that feeds the fibroid, the catheter is used to inject small beads into the blood vessel, causing the vein to clot. The beads block the flow of blood to the fibroid, causing it to shrink. This process is repeated until all the blood vessels to all the fibroids have been successfully  blocked. At that point, the doctor removes the catheter and places a bandage over the incision.

Over the course of a few weeks, the painful fibroid-induced symptoms will begin to go away.

A follow-up appointment with the interventional radiologist is usually scheduled for 1-2 weeks after the procedure.

Low Risk, High Reward-The Value of UFE

 

An infographic comparing uterine fibroid embolization and hysterectomy

UFE combines low risk with a high success rate in one minimally invasive procedure. When performing UFE, interventional radiologists can see everything they’re doing and treat any type of fibroid with extreme precision, eliminating the fibroids while preserving the uterus.

Is UFE Right for You?

Depending on your situation, some treatment options may be better for you than others. However, knowing and discussing all your options with your doctor will help you make the best choice possible.

If you have fibroids, talk to your doctor about UFE, and know that you have the power to take back control of your life.

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