What is a Uterine Embolization?
Uterine fibroid embolization (also known as uterine artery embolization) is a procedure where an interventional radiologist uses a catheter to deliver small particles into the uterine arteries to block the blood supply to fibroid tumors.
How is it done?
Uterine embolization generally takes one to two hours. It is generally performed under a local anesthesia, which numbs the groin area, usually combined with intravenous sedation. Although in some cases a general anesthesia may be used. During the procedure the Interventional Radiologist makes a 3-4 mm. cut in the skin at the groin. A catheter is inserted into the femoral artery. Radiographic contrast material is injected to allow mapping of the blood vessels as the catheter is threaded through the uterine arteries. Tiny particles are injected into the uterine arteries blocking blood flow to the fibroid tumors. Once completed the skin puncture is cleaned and bandaged.
Why is it done?
Uterine embolization is performed to treat the bleeding, pain and other symptoms of uterine fibroid tumors. It is much less invasive than open surgical techniques employed to remove fibroid tumors.
Risks & complications
The risks of uterine fibroid embolization are low. However, as with any surgery, there are risks, including the possibility of:
- Infection requiring antibiotics and in some cases hospitalization
- Excessive bleeding during or after surgery
- Ovary damage, scar tissue formation and infertility
- Reaction to the anesthesia
- Short term allergic reaction or rash
- Temporary suspension of menstrual cycle
Risks can be reduced by following the Radiologist 's instructions before and after Procedure.
The Radiologists may discuss alternative approaches to the uterine embolization procedure. Alternatives include conventional hysterectomy, hormone therapy, myomectomy, as well as application of electric current, ultrasound and liquid nitrogen to tumors.
The best candidates for uterine embolization are women who suffer from pain, bleeding or other symptoms caused by the presence of uterine fibroids. The Gynecologist & Radiologist will make the final determination of each patient’s eligibility for the procedure after an examination and consultation with the patient.