Information for Patients about Uterine Fibroid Embolization
What are Uterine Fibroids? • Uterine fibroids are benign (not cancerous) tumors that grow on or within the muscle walls of the uterus. • They consist of dense, fibrous tissue which is fed by blood vessels. • Their size can vary from as small as a pea to as large as a melon. • A woman may have one or many fibroids. • Doctors believe that 20-40% of women age 35 and older have fibroids.
There are four different types of Uterine Fibroids
Intramural Fibroid Intramural fibroids are found in the wall of the womb and are the most common type of fibroids.
Subserosal Fibroid Subserosal fibroids are found growing outside the wall of the womb and can become very large without treatment.
Submucosal Fibroid Submucosal fibroids are found in the muscle beneath the inner lining of the womb wall.
Pedunculated Submucosal Fibroid Subserosal and Submucosal fibroids are also able to grow on stalks. They are called pedunculated fibroids. Pedunculated Subserosal Fibroid
What symptoms should I look for? Many fibroids do not cause any symptoms; but some can cause problems such as: • Heavy bleeding • Painful periods • Bleeding between periods • Feeling of fullness in the pelvic area • Frequent urination • Pain during sex • Lower back pain
How do I know if I have fibroids? • Your doctor may find that you have fibroids when you see her/him for a regular pelvic exam. • Your doctor may do routine imaging tests such as ultrasound in order to confirm that you have fibroids.
Medicine • Pain medication can sometimes stop a woman’s symptoms of fibroids. • Gonadotropin releasing hormone agonists (GnRHa) are another type of drug used to treat fibroids. • The GnRHa drugs can decrease the size of fibroids, but may only offer only temporary relief from the symptoms. Once a woman stops the therapy, the fibroids can grow back. What are my options?
Surgery • Hysterectomy: • The surgical removal of the uterus. • Performed through an abdominal incision under general anesthesia. • There may be a hospital stay lasting several days. • Patients can expect a 6-8 week recovery period. • Laparoscopic Hysterectomy • Removal of the uterus through a smaller incision at the top of the vagina. • It may require a shorter hospital stay and recovery time. As a results of these surgeries, women will no longer have periods and will not be able to have children.
Myomectomy: • The surgical removal of fibroids. • Two Methods: • Major surgery, with an abdominal incision. • Minor surgery, with a laparoscope. • There may be a hospital stay of several days. • The recovery period may last up to several weeks. • The procedure may cause scar tissue and may affect fertility.
What is UFE? An Alternative that Preserves the Uterus Uterine Fibroid Embolization(UFE) preserves the uterus and reduces surgical risk by using small beads injected into the blood vessels to cut off the blood supply to the fibroids so that they shrink.
Uterine Fibroid Embolization has been performed for more than 15 years and has been used to treat more than 40,000 women around the world. The procedure is not recommended for patients who want to become pregnant. However, in a few cases, women have become pregnant after UFE.
How is UFE Performed? UFE is performed by a specially trained physician called an Interventional Radiologist who uses radiographic imaging to manage fibroids and other conditions.
Patients receive mild sedation and a local anesthesia so they experience little to no discomfort and are able to be awake during the procedure.
During the procedure, the physician inserts a very small tube called a catheter through a tiny hole in the patient’s groin. Very small beads that block the blood supply to the fibroids are delivered through the catheter.
Without sufficient blood flow, the tumor shrinks and symptoms disappear.
What Can I Expect During Recovery? • The procedure generally takes about 1 hour. • Afterwards, patients may stay at the hospital 1 or 2 days. • Patients may experience some pain after the procedure. • The pain is controlled with pain medications through a pump that allows the patient to take the drugs as needed. • Other side-effects may include a low fever, nausea, and fatigue. • Most women can expect to return to regular activities within 1 or 2 weeks after the procedure.
After recovery, the patient will visit her regular gynecologist and interventional radiologist. They will conduct exams to ensure that the fibroids are going away. • All patients should notify their physician about any abnormality they experience after the procedure. After Recovery
What are the benefits of UFE? • Preservation of the uterus without associated surgery risks • Efficient for multiple and large fibroids • Safe and effective • Short hospital stay and recovery • Early return to normal activities • May allow patient to retain fertility
CAUTION Consult your physician about your medical choices. Your physician is in the best position to offer you medical advice based upon your unique situation.
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