Uterine fibroids affect anywhere from 20-40% of women, and many of them are choosing to have uterine fibroid embolization, a procedure that blocks the blood supply to the fibroids in order to shrink them.
However, in rare cases, some women are finding it necessary to have more than one uterine fibroid embolization (UFE). Read on to find out why and if it could happen to you.
What is UFE?
Uterine fibroids are noncancerous tumors that grow on or in the muscle wall of the uterus. Though they do affect a large percentage of women, some do not show any symptoms. Those that do experience symptoms often suffer from excessive menstrual bleeding and severe pelvic pain or pressure.
Uterine fibroid embolization is a procedure to treat fibroids. During UFE, which is performed by an interventional radiologist, the doctor makes a small incision in the femoral artery.
He then guides an instrument through to the uterine artery, where he inserts embolic material that blocks the blood supply to the fibroid. Once the fibroid is no longer receiving blood, it will begin to die and shrink, reducing the painful and frustrating symptoms.
UFE is an outpatient procedure and recovery time is usually 7-10 days, after which you should be able to resume normal activities.
Are there any complications?
There are several risks and complications associated with UFE, although overall it is a safe procedure with minimal risk. Some of the potential complications include:
- Non-target embolization
- Transient amenorrhea, or absence of a menstrual period
- Vaginal discharge or infection
- Short-term allergic reaction or rash
- Premature menopause
- Post-embolization syndrome, which is typically a fever, some pain, and fatigue following the procedure
- Possible fibroid passage
- The effects on fertility and a woman’s ability to carry a child to term have not been determined
It is also possible that the first UFE treatment may not work to its full potential, and a second UFE would be required.
Why would I need a second UFE?
In a study published in the American Journal of Roentgenology, 8,159 patients were followed after their UFE procedure. About 5% of these women needed an additional procedure, whether that was another UFE, a hysterectomy, or a myomectomy.
These additional procedures were mainly due to the failure of the first UFE to ease symptoms. Failures usually happened in the first two years after the UFE procedure.
The results showed that the risk of having a considerable complication from a UFE is lower than the risks of having a hysterectomy. At the same time, there is a higher probability of needing another treatment after a UFE than after a hysterectomy. Either way, the odds of requiring another treatment are low.
To find out more about uterine fibroids, uterine fibroid embolization, and if it could be for you, visit our website at www.ask4ufe.com.
If you’re interested in finding a doctor in your area who can perform UFE, you can use the find a physician tool. All you have to do is enter your zipcode and a doctor will contact you.
PLEASE NOTE: The above information should not be construed as providing specific medical advice, but rather to offer readers information to better understand their lives and health. It is not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician.