Uterine fibroids affect anywhere from 20-40% of women older than 35 years of age, and many of them are choosing to have uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) as treatment.
However, in rare cases, some women are finding it necessary to have more than one UFE procedure.
What is UFE?
Uterine fibroids are noncancerous tumors that grow on or in the muscle wall of the uterus. Though they do affect a large percentage of women, some do not show any symptoms. Those that do experience symptoms often suffer from excessive menstrual bleeding and severe pelvic pain or pressure.
UFE is a procedure to treat fibroids. During UFE, which is performed by a doctor called an interventional radiologist, a small incision is made in the radial (wrist) or femoral artery (groin).
The doctor then guides a slim tube called a catheter through vessels to the uterine artery, where tiny particles called embolic material are injected and block the blood supply to the fibroid. Once the fibroid is no longer receiving blood, it will begin to die and shrink, reducing the painful and frustrating symptoms.
UFE is an outpatient procedure and recovery time is usually 7-10 days, after which you should be able to resume normal activities.
Are there any complications?
There are several risks and complications associated with UFE, although overall it is a safe procedure with minimal risk. Some of the potential complications include:
- -Non-target embolization
- -Transient amenorrhea, or absence of a menstrual period
- -Vaginal discharge or infection
- -Short-term allergic reaction or rash
- -Premature menopause
- -Post-embolization syndrome, which is typically a fever, some pain, and fatigue following the procedure
- -Possible fibroid passage
- -The effects on fertility and a woman’s ability to carry a child to term have not been determined
It is also possible that the first UFE treatment may not work to its full potential, and a second UFE would be required.
Why would I need a second UFE?
In general, approximately 90% of women who undergo UFE are satisfied with their treatment at follow-up. However, about 10-15% of women still experience symptoms and require other treatment. These additional procedures may be due to the failure of the first UFE to ease symptoms.
If you’re interested in learning more about UFE and finding a doctor in your area who can perform the procedure, you can use the Find a UFE Specialist tool to help.
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.