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Women's Imaging

Uterine Fibroid Embolization 

A Uterine Fibroid Embolization is a procedure that shrinks fibroids (non-cancerous growths of muscle tissue) in the uterus by cutting off their blood supply.

How it is performed:
During this procedure, you will be given a sedative through an IV and local anesthesia will then be injected into the groin site near the femoral artery. A catheter will then be inserted into the femoral artery . This catheter will be used to inject contrast . The contrast will show a road map through your arteries which allows the physician to advance the catheter into one of the two uterine arteries.

Next, particles are injected through the catheter using precise X-ray guidance. The particles block the small blood vessels supplying the fibroids. Once one side is complete, the same procedure is done to the uterine artery on the opposite side, usually without a second incision. Final X-ray images will be performed to confirm completion of the procedure.

What you should expect:
The entire procedure will take about 1 ½ - 2 Hours. Prior to the procedure, an intravenous line will be inserted and a foley catheter will be inserted into the bladder. Your heart rate, blood pressure, electrocardiogram, breathing, and blood oxygen levels will be monitored constantly during the procedure.

After completing Uterine Artery Embolization, the site of skin puncture will be cleaned and bandaged. Most patients will be kept in bed for a few hours and remain at the hospital overnight for observation and pain control. Moderate to severe pain is expected for 5-10 hours after the embolization, along with possible nausea and fever. Both pain and nausea will be controlled through intravenous medications. Patients should expect to stay overnight and be discharged when symptoms have improved the next morning.

You may experience moderate to severe menstrual type cramping and spotting over a period of several days after being discharged. Oral pain medications will be prescribed to control these symptoms. Symptoms should continue to diminish over several days. Women should anticipate going back to work one to two weeks after the procedure.

How to prepare:
Prior to the procedure, MRI and/or ultrasound will be used to locate the fibroids, assess their size, and help to determine if they are the cause of your symptoms. Blood tests will be routinely ordered prior to the procedure. You may be instructed to temporarily stop taking certain medications such as those that thin the blood. You will be instructed not to eat or drink anything after midnight before the procedure. You will be instructed by the interventional radiologist on what medications to take that morning.

A Uterine Fibroid Embolization is much less invasive than an open surgery to remove the uterus or to remove the fibroids right out of the uterus. Blood loss is minimal, general anesthesia is not required, and no large surgical incision or stitches are needed. Postoperative pain lasts significantly less time and patients can return to regular activities much sooner than they would after an abdominal hysterectomy. Studies have shown that 85-90% of women have been able to control or completely resolve fibroid-related symptoms by completing this procedure.