Steps to Treatment
If you feel UFE might be the right treatment option for you, it is important to talk with your physician. Follow these steps:
Do your homework!
Conduct research on the Internet or at the library on which uterine fibroid treatments are appropriate for you. Visit websites such as the National Uterine Fibroid Foundation (www.nuff.org), American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (www.acog.org) or the Society of Interventional Radiology (www.sirweb.org) which has an entire section on uterine fibroid embolization.
Check out your hospital’s website to see if it has information on treatment options.
Seek a second, third or fourth opinion.
- Obtain a complete copy of your medical records from your current OB-GYN and do not hesitate to discuss treatment options with other doctors.
- Keep talking until you are comfortable with what you hear. You and your doctor should both be satisfied with your treatment plan.
- You may want to talk to an Interventional Radiologist (IR), who is familiar with uterine fibroid embolization and who will be able to determine if you are a candidate. Most IR’s are accustomed to managing self-referred patients.
- If after an initial consultation with an IR you are not a candidate for UFE, then the IR is able to refer you back to your OB-GYN who can provide you with additional options. The IR can also provide you the name of an OB-GYN if you currently do not have one.
Talk to other women with uterine fibroids.
- Try to identify and speak with women who have had treatments for their uterine fibroids to learn about their individual experiences.
- Discuss alternatives with your doctor so he/she knows you are aware of them and to see if you are a potential candidate for UFE.
- Many hospitals have women’s health seminars that feature a discussion on fibroids.
Make an appointment.
If you decide to make an appointment with your OB-GYN to discuss whether you might be a candidate for UFE, please view the list of questions provided in this section of the site. The questions will help you to better understand the fibroid treatment options available to you.
Questions about fibroid treatments:
- How do you typically treat symptomatic fibroids? What are the risks and benefits of each of these treatments?
- What are my surgical and less invasive options for treating my uterine fibroid tumors?
- What are the advantages, risks, and benefits of each of the fibroid treatments?
- Have all of the necessary diagnostic tests been performed? Trans-vaginal ultrasound or MRI? Endometrial biopsy? Blood tests? Why or why not?
- If I want to retain my uterus, what alternatives to hysterectomy are available?
Questions about more invasive surgical options:
- Do I need to have a surgery? Will my ovaries be removed? If so, why? Will my cervix be removed? If so, why?
- What are the risks associated with surgery?
- Will I experience earlier menopause (change of life)? Can the symptoms of menopause be treated?
- What are the risks and benefits of treatment(s) for the symptoms of menopause?
- What are the limitations of surgery?
- Will surgery cure my uterine fibroid tumors?
Questions about UFE:
- Do you refer patients for UFE? If not, why?
- How many patients have you referred for UFE and how many have chosen UFE to treat their uterine fibroid tumors?
- Will you refer me to an Interventional Radiologist for a consultation?
Ask who your OB-GYN recommends.
Your OB-GYN is accustomed to referring patients to different types of medical specialists. Your OB-GYN has a network of specialists with whom he or she has a relationship and feels comfortable sending patients. Interventional Radiologists have also developed relationships with OB-GYN’s to ensure that their patients are getting the best care possible. IR’s share their knowledge of uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) and patient outcomes to educate OB-GYN’s on patient selection, the procedure, and how UFE fits into the overall management of their patients with fibroid tumors. IR’s are specialists who treat your symptomatic uterine fibroids and manage your post-procedure care for a period of approximately a month; however, your OB-GYN will still be your primary physician who will oversee your gynecologic health.
Find someone you trust.
If you would like to be referred to a specialist in your area, you can use the “Find a Physican” tool on this site to help you locate Interventional Radiologists who perform uterine fibroid embolization (UFE). The physicians on this list have provided their phone numbers and e-mail addresses so that you can contact them for an appointment.
Prepare for consultation.
If your OB-GYN has diagnosed that you have uterine fibroids, you should take a copy of your medical records, and any imaging that has confirmed your fibroid tumors, to the consultation with your Interventional Radiologist. If you have had a recent gynecologic evaluation, it would be helpful to bring a copy of this evaluation to your consult, as an OB-GYN exam is recommended to rule out non-fibroid causes of symptoms.
Bring the following to your initial appointment with your IR:
- Copy of medical records, including recent gynecologic exam
- Copy of any imaging done
- List of questions for your IR
- Patient Education Pamphlet
You may also want to ask the Interventional Radiologist some questions to help you understand UFE as a procedure, and also to understand how the physician will manage your case. Some questions you may want to ask include:
- Please explain how you would coordinate my care with my OB-GYN.
- Which OB-GYNs refer to you for UFE?
- How often is the procedure successful in treating uterine fibroids?
- Are your patients happy with the procedure?
- How often do complications occur? What are typical complications?
- How will I feel during and after the UFE procedure?
- How long should I expect to be away from work?
- What is the length of the procedure? What is the normal recovery time?
- How long should I expect to stay in the hospital?
- What kind of follow-up care is typical and who manages it?
- What typically happens to the fibroids after the blood supply is cut off? Should I expect them to be expelled vaginally or will the procedure simply result in my fibroids shrinking?
- Will my fibroids, or the symptoms of my fibroids, come back?
- Will I still get my periods after having UFE and what will they be like?
- Will my insurance cover uterine fibroid embolization?
- Can you help me determine if I am a candidate for UFE and when can we schedule the procedure?