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.

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.

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.

  1. You will be given information about the procedure and its risks and benefits.
  2. You will likely need to undergo a physical examination that includes blood tests and a chest x-ray.
  3. Please let your doctor know about all medication that you are taking as some may need to be stopped before the procedure, such as anticoagulants like aspirin, Plavix, and warfarin.
  4. You may need to avoid all food and water for at least six hours before the procedure, or as recommended by the doctor.
  5. The skin on your groin will be prepared for the procedure.
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.
  1. You should rest for at least 24 hours after the procedure.
  2. Drink plenty of water and eat normally.
  3. Leave the bandage on for at least eight hours.
  4. If there is any bleeding at the site of the procedure, inform a nurse immediately and lie flat on your back.
  5. If you experience numbness or coldness, or if the limb where the procedure was done changes color, inform a nurse immediately
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.

After you are discharged, it is recommended that you stay at a hotel close to the hospital for at least two days for convenience in traveling to the hospital if any complications arise after the procedure.
Uterine Embolization may have an over 90% success rate. However, it depends on a number of factors. Please discuss the likelihood of success with your doctor before the procedure.
What if this procedure is not performed?
Fibroid tumor progression.
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.

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