With all the treatment options available for uterine fibroids, it’s hard to know which one will be best for you. However, if these noncancerous tumors that grow on or in the muscle walls of the uterus are affecting you, it’s important to know how your options stack up.
Two of the options to focus on are a myomectomy and uterine fibroid embolization. These two procedures are very different but can have similar results.
What is a myomectomy?
A myomectomy is the surgical removal of uterine fibroids followed by the reconstruction of the uterus. There are several ways that this procedure is done, including:
- Abdominal myomectomy: Your surgeon will make an incision either vertically or horizontally across the abdomen. The length or direction of the incision depends on the size of the fibroids.
- Laparoscopic myomectomy: A small tube with a camera attached is inserted through an incision in or near the belly button. The surgeon then makes other small incisions around the abdominal cavity, through which he cuts the fibroids into smaller pieces and removes them.
- Hysteroscopic myomectomy: For fibroids that protrude significantly into the uterine cavity, a hysteroscopic myomectomy may be used to remove the fibroids through the vagina.
Most of the time, women who choose to have a myomectomy are those who want to preserve their uterus and fertility, especially if fibroids have been negatively impacting their ability to bear children.
What is uterine fibroid embolization?
Uterine fibroid embolization, or UFE, is a minimally invasive procedure that usually takes less than an hour. It is performed by an interventional radiologist, who makes a small incision to the femoral artery. He then guides a tube through the incision to the location of the fibroids.
The doctor injects small spheres of embolic material into the vessel supplying blood to the fibroid. This is used to block the blood flow so that the fibroid cannot continue to grow, and will begin to shrink.
UFE is an outpatient procedure and the recovery time is typically seven to ten days. You will be able to go home the same day and will be back on your feet, resuming normal life within two weeks.
Women who choose to undergo UFE want relief from their symptoms, but are not necessarily concerned with preserving fertility. The long term effects of UFE on ovarian function and the ability to carry a fetus have not been determined.
Which is better?
There are pros and cons to both a myomectomy and uterine fibroid embolization, and it really depends on what you decide will be best for you. It’s important to talk to your doctor about your options and your goals for the future.
A myomectomy is a more invasive option with a longer recovery time, but it is possible to continue to bear children afterward. UFE is simple, relatively fast, and easy to recover from, but your fertility may be affected.
To find a doctor in your area that can tell you more about UFE and perform the procedure, use our find a physician tool. Just provide your zip code, choose a doctor, and he or she will be in contact with 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.