Uterine fibroid embolization is performed by an experienced interventional radiologist. The FDA-approved procedure is clinically proven to reduce the major symptoms of uterine fibroids in women.
Uterine fibroid tumors, also known as leiomyomas, are benign growths of fiber and muscle within or on the muscular walls of the uterus. These noncancerous tumors may cause heavy menstrual bleeding, pressure on the bladder or bowel and pain in the pelvic region. Uterine fibroids affect 20 percent to 40 percent of women over the age of 35. African-American women are the most racially prone group, as are women with a family history of fibroids. The size of the fibroids can range in size from ¼-inch to the size of a cantaloupe.
Uterine fibroid embolization is an alternative to the surgical removal of the fibroids (myomectomy) or removal of the entire uterus (hysterectomy). Physicians at VCU Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) offer women this alternative treatment option to invasive surgery.
During the minimally invasive procedure, interventional radiologists use x-ray imaging to guide a catheter through the wrist or groin to the uterine arteries. Embolic agents, which are tiny particles that are then injected through the catheter into the blood vessels. These particles block the blood supply feeding the fibroids, which causes them to shrink and die.
Patients typically notice a 50 percent reduction in the size of the fibroids within three to six months and an 80 percent reduction after the first year. Overall, patients experience a 90 percent improvement of symptoms.
Minimally Invasive Procedure
Uterine fibroid embolization is a minimally invasive procedure, which typically lasts between 45 and 90 minutes and requires only a tiny incision at the site where the catheter enters the artery. The uterine arteries are easily accessed from the radial artery in the wrist or the femoral artery in the groin. The catheter is then advanced into the uterine arteries which give blood supply to the fibroids. An angiogram, or x-ray study, of the blood vessels is performed to provide a road map of the blood supply to the uterus and fibroids. Thousands of tiny particles (embolic agents) are then delivered to the uterine arteries feeding the fibroids, blocking the blood supply to them. Blood flow to the uterus remains present, but flow to the fibroids is eliminated.