For women considering uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) to treat uterine fibroid tumors, it is important to understand what to expect after your procedure.
UFE is a less invasive procedure done by a doctor called an interventional radiologist (IR). Your IR will make one small incision in the wrist or groin area. From there, a small tube is inserted and X-ray equipment is used to guide it through the arteries to the uterus.
Once your IR reaches the fibroids, small embolization particles are injected into the arteries. These arteries provide blood and oxygen to the fibroids.
Without oxygen, the fibroid cannot stay alive, so the tumors will shrink. The embolization particles will remain in the uterine arteries to prevent fibroid tumors from coming back.
The treatment lasts less than one hour. It is considered an outpatient procedure, meaning you will be able to go home that day and will not spend the night. You will not be fully sedated, so you will remain awake throughout the experience. However, a prescription painkiller will be given to you to help ease any pain your fibroid tumors may be causing you.
Patients should not plan on driving themselves home after the procedure is complete. Pain medications given during or after your fibroid treatment will not allow you to safely drive yourself home. Plan on bringing someone with you or having someone pick you up once you have been released.
What happens after UFE?
After the UFE procedure, you may experience pain in the lower stomach area. You can expect to feel slight cramping like the pain you feel during your period. However, your IR will prescribe medications to help ease any discomfort.
Your comfort is extremely important to your doctor and nurses. Expect to stay anywhere from 4 to 23 hours after your procedure is complete. Your stay will be determined by how you are feeling after your UFE procedure.
Once your IR feels that you are ready to go home, you will be given discharge instructions. These instructions will have everything you need to know about post-UFE care. They will also include directions about medications you will need to take.
Your discharge instructions will also indicate when you can expect to return to normal activities. It will have a list of phone numbers you may call with any questions about your post-UFE care plan.
What kind of follow-up should I expect?
After your procedure is complete, your IR will consult with your OB-GYN for any follow up. Be sure to ask your IR about when to expect follow-up appointments. Typical timeframes for these appointments are one week post-procedure and three months post-procedure.
How can I expect to feel once I am home?
At home, you may continue to have pain similar to menstrual cramps. Cramping can last a few days after the procedure. Your IR will give you directions for managing this type of pain. Generally, you will receive medications for pain management.
If you experience fever symptoms after your treatment, check your discharge plan for any directions about medications you can take to reduce fever. You want to be sure to not take anything that may react with the pain medications you have been given. If you have questions about symptoms or a fever medication that is safe to take, call your doctor.
Some patients suffer nausea due to the pain medications. Medications can and should be changed immediately if you feel extreme nausea.
Some patients may experience “post-embolization syndrome,” which may include flu-like symptoms, such as a low fever, a vague feeling of discomfort, and mild nausea. These symptoms can occur within a few hours or up to a few days after UFE.
Most women are able to return to light activity within just a few days of UFE. You should be able to return to work and a normal level of activity within 11 days of treatment.
To find a physician in your area who can perform the UFE procedure, use the Find a Physician tool.
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.