What is the Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) procedure like?

 

ufe is a relatively quick and less invasive treatment, and often you are sent home the next day, depending on where you have the procedure. Dr. Suzanne Slonim, M.D., describes the process from the patient’s perspective.

“So from your perspective, you’re going to come into the hospital, in the morning, the nursing staff is going to do a whole lot of things, they’re going to start an IV, they’re going to give you some medicines, they’re going to draw some blood, we’re going to check you out the morning of the procedure, we’re going to take you into the procedure room and put you to sleep. They will put a catheter in your bladder, and then I’m going to do the procedure, you’re not going to have any awareness of it. You’re not going to remember it at all.”

“As soon as the procedure is done, we’re going to bring you back into the holding room, and I’m going to hook you up to the pain pump. I’m going to stand at your bedside and make sure that you’re comfortable and not in pain, and hook you up to the pain pump, then the nurses will watch you. I will always be hovering around close by so that if there are any issues I usually tell, women usually bring their mother or their husband with them, and I usually tell them if there is any problems that are not being addressed please come and find me, and I’ll take care of it.”

“You’ll stay in my holding room until late in the afternoon. I do that for two reasons. One is my nurse is going to watch you a lot closer than the nurses upstairs. Two, is that most of these are done on a 23-hour admission, that 23 hours starts when you get up to the unit, up to the floor, and I don’t want tomorrow for anyone to be saying, listen Dr. Slonim, it’s time for her to go.”

“I want to make sure you’re ready to go before you leave. So, you’ll stay in my area until late in the afternoon, you’ll go up to the floor, and you’ll be in the hospital room overnight.”

See Dr. Linda Hughes’ answer to this question.

 

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When is a myomectomy better than a Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE)?

 

Depending on the size, location, and type of your fibroids, there may be different treatment options that will work best for you. Dr. Suzanne Slonim, M.D., explains when a myomectomy may be the better choice.

“A myomectomy would be preferred if you had a single large fibroid, particularly if it were in the front of the uterus, easy to get to, in front, or side that wasn’t too deep into the tissue, that would be the ideal candidate for a myomectomy.”

See Dr. Linda Hughes’ answer to this question.

 

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What happens after a Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE)?

 

Initially after the UFE procedure it is likely that patients will experience a variety of different side effects. However, a UFE has several long-term effects on the fibroids, namely that your symptoms should diminish and the fibroids should shrink. Dr. Suzanne Slonim, M.D., explains further.

“Okay, so immediately after the procedure you’re going to be uncomfortable, there is going to be pain, there can be low grade fever, nausea, vomiting, just you’re going to feel lousy. I’m going to give you medicines to take care of that discomfort until it’s gone, okay. Now, if you’re talking in a more long-term perspective, then what’s going to happen is the fibroids are going to shrink, the uterus is going to shrink, and your symptoms are going to go away, or improve.”

“It usually takes 3-6 months to see the maximum effect from the procedure”.

See Dr. Linda Hughes’ answer to this question.

 

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How can fibroids affect sexual intercourse? What changes after a Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE)?

 

Fibroids can make sexual intercourse increasingly painful or unappealing, and most women see an improvement after ufe. Dr. Slonim, M.D., explains further.

“Usually they don’t unless there’s an unfortunately positioned fibroid that can cause pain during intercourse. That’s not uncommon actually and I do tell my patients to refrain from having sexual intercourse for two weeks after the procedure, just because there’s going to be inflammation and it’s more likely to be painful, but two weeks will be enough.”

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Can you help me determine if I am a candidate for UFE and when we can schedule the procedure?

 

Uterine fibroid embolization is an effective treatment for treating uterine fibroids. It may or may not be the best treatment option for your body. Dr. Slonim explains below how she will determine if you’re the right candidate for ufe.

“Yes, I can help you determine if you’re a candidate that’s based on your medical history, physical exam, and an Mri to demonstrate the anatomy of the fibroids, and of the uterus. Once we determine that you are a candidate, we schedule the exam at your convenience, I’m always here, and we can do, we choose from a couple of different facilities that we can work at and whatever’s convenient for you we can do it there.”

 

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Will my insurance cover a Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE)?

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Uterine Fibroid Embolization has been recognized as a medically necessary procedure, and because of this, insurance plans have been more accepting of covering the procedure.

“Yes, this is a medically necessary procedure for a multitude of reasons, and 20 years ago when the procedure was in its infancy it wasn’t covered, but now I think every insurance plan covers ufe.”

See Dr. Linda Hughes’ answer to this question.

 

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Will I still get my period after having a Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE)?

 

Dr. Slonim explains that you will still have your period after having a ufe procedure, but with each menstruation cycle your flow will get lighter.

“Yes, you will still have your period. In fact, it’s very common for your first period after the procedure to be very heavy. You’ll have very heavy flow, but from then it will get lighter and lighter, and lighter. It should not go away completely until you reach menopause, but it should get lighter.”

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Will my fibroids or symptoms come back after having a Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE)?

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Returning fibroids and symptoms after having a ufe varies with the person and is dependent on one’s age. Dr. Suzanne Slonim explains the odds of getting fibroids again.

“The answer to that question depends on our age, OK. So, younger women, women who are prone to making fibroids are going to continue making fibroids, we’ll treat the fibroids that you have and take care of the problem. But if you’re in the younger age range, 30’s and to maybe early 40’s, you still got your normal hormonal stimulation to produce the fibroids, if you’re in your mid to late 40’s you’re approaching menopause, and as you reach menopause the stimulation to form the fibroids is going to go away, so those are your odds, and if you get fibroids again, there’s no reason we can’t do the procedure again.”

See Dr. Linda Hughes’ answer to this question.

 

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Will a Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) be able to treat very large fibroids?

 

Many women are concerned that UFE will not work because their fibroids are too large. Fibroids of any size can be treated with UFE, but it may not be the best solution for every woman. Dr. Suzanne Slonim, M.D., explains.

“The answer to that is yes, but there’s some soft limit. The literature says that once a fibroid reaches eight centimeters, which maybe the size of an orange, the result, particularly if it’s for bulk symptoms is not as good as it could be. That fibroid is going to shrink 60%, but you’re still going to be left with a 4 centimeter fibroid for example.”

“So, if a woman is really strongly averse to having surgery, then absolutely I will do your procedure and it’s going to help you, but if you have a particularly large single fibroid, that’s a good candidate for a myomectomy, in my opinion.”

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What happens to the fibroids after a Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE)?

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Your body may go through several changes after your uterine fibroid embolization procedure as you adjust to decreased symptoms related to fibroids. Dr. Suzanne Slonim explains what happens to the fibroids following your ufe procedure.

“The fibroids are going to shrink about 60%. The fibroids shrink 60%, the uterus shrinks 60%, so overall there’s a significant decrease in volume. Now the fibroids don’t disappear, they get smaller, but as they get smaller they are not going to bother you anymore. It is rare for a fibroid to get expelled but it is possible, so I usually let women know about that in case they find a fibroid they don’t get alarmed by it.”

See Dr. Linda Hughes’ answer to this question.

 

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