Uterine ribroid embolization (UFE), also known as uterine artery embolization, is a minimally invasive technique to reduce the size and major symptoms associated with fibroids, including pain, frequent urination, excessive and prolonged bleeding. This procedure provides an alternative to standard treatments such as myomectomy or hysterectomy for the treatments of uterine fibroids.
UFE is typically results in shorter hospital stays and fewer complications than surgical treatments. Patients are able to return to their normal activities in a shorter period of time and there is a high degree of patient satisfaction.
UFE is performed by our interventional radiologists, Dr. Brian Johnson and Dr. Christopher Rothstein. The actual procedure usually takes 30 to 60 minutes to perform. During this procedure, patients are given a mild sedative but are awake. The radiologist places a thin tube called a catheter into an artery in your upper thigh. Using X-ray imaging called fluoroscopy, the radiologist guides this catheter to the uterine artery. Tiny round particles are then injected into the artery to block the blood flow to the fibroids causing them to shrink.
Discomfort during the UFE procedure is minimal. Following the procedure, there may be some discomfort, which will peak about 3 hours after the procedure, and this can be easily controlled with pain-relieving medications. Most discomfort is gone by the next morning, and virtually all patients are released from the hospital within 24 hours after their procedure, requiring only ibuprofen or, in some cases, Percocet®, for comfort.
Uterine fibroid embolization is not for everyone. Patients who are pregnant or wish to become pregnant should not have this procedure. The decision to have this procedure is something that you should discuss thoroughly with your gynecologist.
If your gynecologist feels that you would benefit from this procedure, call 202.537.4795 to schedule an appointment.