It’s scary enough to learn you have tumors in the muscular lining of your uterus, also known as uterine fibroids. But taking the step to undergo a procedure to treat them can be even scarier.
The good news is that uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) is available, and a large majority of women have been satisfied with the treatment. However, it’s still important to know what to expect going in and how long it might take to recover.
What Is UFE?
Uterine fibroids are noncancerous tumors that grow in or on the muscle tissue of the uterus. They can cause many problems, including heavy menstrual bleeding, extreme pelvic pain, and loss of bladder control. In the past, these tumors could only be removed through major surgeries.
However, there’s now a treatment called UFE. This is a minimally invasive procedure that involves blocking the blood supply to the tumors. It’s performed by a doctor called an interventional radiologist (IR). During UFE, the IR inserts a thin tube into the uterine artery through a small incision near the groin or in the wrist. Particles are then injected into the artery to block the blood supply, causing the tumor to shrink and die.
What Can I Expect after My Treatment?
UFE is an outpatient procedure, so many women will be able to go home that day and won’t have to spend the night. However, depending on how you feel and when your IR says you can go home, you could stay in patient recovery for up to 24 hours. Your doctor will prescribe some medications for the pain resulting from the surgery.
Together, your IR and gynecologist will give you a set of discharge instructions that will tell you everything you need to know after your procedure. These instructions will include which medications you can take based on how you’re feeling. They’ll also have a list of numbers you can call if you have questions, and information on when you can return to normal activity. Typically, recovery time is around 1-2 weeks.
What Should I Look Out for the Week After the Procedure?
There are a few symptoms that may affect you the week after UFE:
- Abdominal pain or cramping: For a few days following the procedure, you may feel cramps similar to what you feel while on your period. Your doctor may prescribe you medication to help with this.
- Fever: Some patients experience a fever after UFE, and it’s usually treated with medication.
- Nausea: If you experience any nausea, let your doctor know, so your medications can be adjusted.
- Post Embolization Syndrome: You may experience flu-like symptoms, a feeling of discomfort, and mild nausea. It can happen anywhere from a few hours to a few days after your procedure.
If you experience any symptoms that seem unmanageable or irregular, let your IR know.
Your doctor will schedule post-procedure appointments to check on your recovery and address any concerns you may have. Normally, you’ll have an appointment 1 week after your treatment and another 3 months later.
Still have questions about fibroids and UFE? Browse the Ask4UFE site for more helpful information. To find an IR in your area that can perform the UFE procedure, use our Find a UFE Specialist tool.
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.