It’s scary enough to find out that you have tumors in the muscular lining of your uterus, also known as uterine fibroids. But taking the step to undergo a procedure to get rid of them can be even scarier.
The good news is that uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) is available and a large majority of women have been satisfied with their treatment. However, it is still important to know what to expect going in and how long it might take to recover and take your life back.
What is UFE?
Uterine fibroids are noncancerous tumors that grow in or on the muscle tissue of the uterus. They can cause many problems for women that are affected, including heavy menstrual bleeding, extreme pelvic pain, and loss of bladder control. In the past, these tumors could only be removed through major surgeries.
However, there is now a treatment called uterine fibroid embolization. This is a minimally invasive procedure that involves cutting off the blood supply to the tumors. It is performed by an interventional radiologist (IR), who inserts a small tube into the uterine artery through a small incision near the groin. He or she then injects particles into the artery to block the blood supply, causing the tumor to shrink and die.
UFE is an outpatient procedure, so you will be able to go home that day and will not have to spend the night. Typically, recovery time is around one week to 14 days.
What can I expect after my treatment?
You will stay in patient recovery for up to 24 hours, depending on how you are feeling and when your IR gives you the okay to go home. Your doctor will prescribe you some medications to deal with the pain resulting from the surgery.
Together, your IR and gynecologist will give you a set of discharge instructions that will tell you everything you need to know after your procedure. These instructions will include what medications you can take based on how you are feeling. They will also have numbers for who you can call if you have questions and information on when you can return to normal activity.
What should I look out for that week?
There are a few symptoms that may affect you the week after UFE:
- Abdominal pain or cramping. You may feel cramps, similar to what you would feel while on your period, for a few days following the procedure. Your doctor may prescribe you medication to help with this.
- Fever. Some patients experience a fever after UFE and it is usually treated with medication.
- Nausea. If you experience any nausea, let your doctor know so your medications can be adjusted.
- Post Embolization Syndrome. This entails having flu-like symptoms, a feeling of discomfort, and mild nausea. It can happen anywhere from a few hours to a few days after your procedure.
If you experience any symptoms that seem unmanageable or irregular, let your IR know.
Your doctor will schedule post-procedure appointments to check on your recovery and address any concerns you may have. Normally, you will have an appointment one week after your treatment and another one three months later.
Still have questions about fibroids and UFE? Visit www.ask4ufe.com for more information. To find an IR in your area that can perform the UFE procedure, use our find a physician tool. All you need to provide is your zip code and then a qualified doctor will contact you.
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.