If you suffer from uterine fibroids—noncancerous tumors that grow on or in the muscle wall of the uterus—you may have heard of a fibroid treatment called uterine fibroid embolization, or UFE. UFE is an alternative to a hysterectomy and is an option for many women.
Although you may have heard of UFE, you may not know exactly what it is or what kind of equipment is used. If you are considering this procedure, it’s important to know the details.
What is UFE?
Uterine fibroid embolization is a minimally invasive procedure that is performed by an interventional radiologist. The doctor makes a small incision in the groin area and guides a catheter through the bloodstream to the fibroids.
There, small particles are inserted into the femoral artery that block the blood supply to the fibroids. Without an incoming supply of blood, the fibroids will stop growing and begin to shrink.
The procedure usually takes no more than an hour and you can often go home the same day, or after spending one night in the hospital. Recover time is about seven to fourteen days, after which you will be able to resume your normal day-to-day activities.
90% of women who have had this procedure have been satisfied at follow-up. Many notice an immediate improvement in their symptoms and in their own self-confidence.
What exactly are the particles used in UFE?
The particles that most interventional radiologists decide to use are called Embosphere® Microspheres. They are gelatin beads similar to the consistency of soft contact lenses. The beads are very tiny, at 500-700 or 700-900 microns, which is about the size of a poppy seed.
The size of the beads is carefully chosen by the interventional radiologist to ensure that only the blood supply to the fibroids is blocked, and not the supply to the surrounding organs including the uterus.
The beads also have specific properties that help them do their job. These include non-aggregating properties, predictable distribution, and highly targeted delivery. Due to their texture and shape, the beads will not get stuck in the catheter or the artery, and therefore distribute as expected.
Embosphere Microspheres have been used in over 200,000 procedures worldwide and are the most clinically studied round embolic.
Uterine fibroid embolization is a safe, minimally invasive procedure for the treatment of uterine fibroids. It’s a viable option for many women who want to preserve their uterus and find relief from painful symptoms.
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.