Uterine Fibroid Embolization in Mobile, AL
Uterine Fibroids are common, benign growths that develop in the muscular walls of the uterus. They can range in size, from a quarter of an inch to a cantaloupe. While some fibroids don’t cause symptoms, others can cause bleeding and pain. If your fibroids are causing discomfort and heavy bleeding and you don’t plan on a pregnancy in the future, uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) might be a good option for you.
What to Expect During Uterine Fibroid Embolization
After deciding that UFE is the best choice for you, your interventional radiologist will explain what to do prior to the procedure and what to expect during the procedure.
Prior to your UFE procedure: your physician will tell you when you need to stop eating and whether you should take your other medications the day of the surgery.
During your UFE procedure: you will be sedated, but not unconscious. The procedure usually takes one to three hours. The steps of UFE, which is a minimally invasive procedure, include:
- A thin, flexible tube called a catheter is placed into a blood vessel in the upper thigh
- Using real-time imagery, the interventional radiologist guides the catheter through the artery
- Small particles that are the size of grains of sand are released into the uterine arteries that supply blood to the fibroid tumor
- Blood flow to the fibroid tumor is blocked, which causes the fibroids to shrink
After your UFE procedure: Most interventional radiologists suggest at least a six-hour bed rest post-procedure. Cramping and abdominal pain are extremely common after UFE. Your interventional radiologist will decide what medications are necessary to keep you comfortable.
Some women are able to go home a few hours after the procedure, while others require an overnight hospital stay. Even though light cramping might continue for a short period of time, most women are able to resume normal activities within seven to ten days of undergoing the procedure.
What Are the Benefits of UFE?
Uterine fibroid embolization is typically performed on an outpatient basis, meaning that women treated for fibroids at Alabama Coastal Radiology may return home following their procedure. Over the next several weeks the patient’s fibroids should gradually reduce in size as they continue to not receive the blood necessary for further development and growth.
Compared to more traditional approaches to treating fibroids, such as a hysterectomy, UFE is much less invasive. Avoidance of making a large incision and putting a patient fully under anesthesia during their treatment lowers both the risk of potential complications and the amount of recommended recovery time for the patient. A majority of patients who receive uterine fibroid treatment using UFE are able to return to regular daily activities in one to two days.
What Are the Risks of UFE?
Uterine fibroid embolization is very safe and is associated with significantly lower rates of complications following treatment compared to other common fibroid removal procedures. The most common side effects following UFE are:
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Skipping the first 1 or 2 menstrual cycles after UFE treatment
- Early menopause (usually seen in patients 45+ years in age)
- Prolonged vaginal discharge
Much rarer potential outcomes from UFE include fibroid expulsion, non-target embolization, and infection. Be sure to contact Alabama Coastal Radiology immediately if you experience any abnormal symptoms following your UFE procedure, as they may be signs of a rare complication. Such symptoms include unexplained bleeding, bruising, and severe pain.
Life After UFE
Improvements in symptoms are most commonly noticed within the first three months. According to studies on the effectiveness of uterine fibroid embolization, 93 percent of women reported having seen improvements in their symptoms and the majority of patients (73 percent) saw long-lasting relief from symptoms after five years.
Schedule a Consultation
Contact your Alabama Coastal Radiology if you’re considering UFE to treat your uterine fibroids and would like to learn more about the procedure. To schedule a consultation, call our office today at (251) 435-0326