Maybe you’ve decided to undergo uterine fibroid embolization (UFE), or maybe you’re considering the procedure and want to learn more about how it helps with uterine fibroids, which are noncancerous tumors that grow on or in the muscular lining of the uterus. Choosing a procedure can be a big step, and it’s important to have all the information you need to make a decision.
Find out exactly what to expect if you do decide on UFE, including how you will feel before, during, and after, and who you can depend on to manage your treatment.
How do I prepare for UFE?
The first time you meet with your interventional radiologist, the doctor who will perform your UFE procedure, he or she will explain everything in detail to you. Your doctor will tell you about any tests that will happen before the procedure and anything you should be aware of to prepare to have UFE.
Together, you will decide what kind of sedation will work best for you. Most of the time, doctors choose to use conscious sedation, which means you will be awake during the procedure but will be groggy and relaxed.
At this time, you should also tell your doctor if you are allergic to any medications, gelatin, shellfish, contrast agents, or iodine. This will help you avoid an allergic reaction during the procedure.
What will happen the day of the procedure?
When you arrive at the hospital, the radiology staff will get you prepped for your procedure. This includes starting the sedation and any other medications, drawing blood, and starting an IV. Once the sedation starts to take effect, you will begin to feel groggy and will be moved to the procedure room.
You won’t have much memory of the actual procedure. It begins with a small incision in the groin area through which the doctor will guide a catheter. Using x-ray equipment, he or she will guide the catheter through the femoral artery, to the uterine artery, to the location of the fibroids.
There, your doctor will inject embolization material into the bloodstream leading to the fibroids. Once the blood supply is blocked, the fibroids will be deprived of oxygen, which will cause them to stop growing and begin to shrink.
This process will be repeated on the other side of the uterus, using the same incision. The catheter will then be removed and the interventional radiologist will close the incision. The entire procedure will take about 30-60 minutes.
What can I expect after UFE?
You will most likely stay in the hospital overnight and be sent home the next morning. During your stay, you will be able to monitor your pain through medication and if there are any issues, the doctor will be able to oversee them.
Once you return home, you’re likely to experience some cramping and pain in the abdomen. Your doctor will prescribe you medication to help deal with that. Some patients experience “post-embolization syndrome,” including flu-like symptoms and mild nausea.
The recovery time for UFE is around seven to fourteen days, and you will have a follow-up appointment with your doctor a week after your procedure. Most women return to light or normal activity just a few days after the treatment.
You can learn more about what to expect after UFE through our blog post, What to Expect After a UFE Procedure.
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.