South Florida Interventional
South Florida Interventional, Todd D Schwartz, D.O.
South Florida Interventional

Uterine Fibroid Embolization

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About UFE:

UFE blocks the blood supply to fibroids, causing them to shrink. It is clinically proven to reduce the major symptoms of fibroids, including pain, excessive and prolonged bleeding, and frequent urination. UFE is minimally invasive, requiring only a small nick in the skin. The procedure lasts less than an hour, and patients return to work in an average of 11 days.

UFE is performed by an interventional radiologist (IR), a doctor who uses X-rays and other imaging techniques to see inside the body and treat conditions without surgery. During UFE, you are given sedation medication but remain awake. The IR inserts a thin tube into an artery at the top of your thigh, then uses X-ray imaging to guide the tube to the uterine artery. Tiny round particles called Embosphere Microspheres are injected into the blood vessels that lead to the fibroids. They block blood flow, causing the fibroids to shrink. Embosphere Microspheres remain permanently at the fibroid site. The process is repeated in your other uterine artery for complete blockage of the blood to the fibroid.

Benefits of UFE:

  • Shorter hospital stay
    • UFE: < 1 day
    • Hysterectomy: 2.3 days
  • Return to work faster
    • UFE: 10.7 days
    • Hysterectomy: 32.5 days
  • Fewer complications (after 30 days)
    • UFE: 12.7%
    • Hysterectomy: 32%

Differences Among UFE Embolics:

There are several brands of embolics available to doctors, but not all are the same. Embosphere Microspheres have been used in clinical practice for more than ten years, and have been studied more often than any othe rround embolic. More interventional radiologists choose them for UFE than any other brand. Ask your doctor if Embosphere Microspheres are right for you.

Deciding on UFE:

If you need treatment for fibroid symptoms but want to avoid surgery, UFE may be right for you. Your gynecologist can provide a referral to an interventional radiologist who can help you decide based on your medical history and size and location of your fibroids.

Patients who are ideal for UFE include women who:

  • Have symptomatic fibroids
  • Do not intend to get pregnant in the future
  • Want to keep their uterus
  • Do not want surgery
  • Want an overnight or outpatient hospital stay
  • May not be good candidates for surgery

You should not have this procedure if you are pregnant or want to become pregnant. The effects of UFE on the ability to become pregnant and carry a fetus to term, and on the development of the fetus, have not been determined.

While there are reports of women becoming pregnant after uterine fibroid embolization (UFE), and having successful pregnancies, there are no scientific study results establishing the safety of UFE on fertility and pregnancy. As with any medical intervention, you should discuss the most current clinical, data before deciding on the fibroid treatment option that is right for you.

Health Insurance Coverage for UFE:

Most insurance companies cover UFE as a treatment for symptomatic fibroids. Discuss your coverage with your doctor or insurance provider before the procedure.

Patient Satisfaction with UFE:

In clinical studies conducted at 11 medical centers in the U.S., 132 women with fibroid problems were treated with Embosphere Microspheres. After 12 months, the majority had significant improvements in menstrual bleeding, pelvic pain, pelvic discomfort, and frequency of urination. Ninety percent reported being satisfied. Recent long-term reports demonstrate a 73% symptom resolution rate five years after UFE. These results are equal to or better than five-year results after myomectomy.

Risks Associated with UFE:

Overall, UFE is a safe procedure for treating symptomatic fibroids with minimal risk. Infrequent complications have een reported following UFE. The most reported risk factors and complications associated with UFE are transient amenorrhea, common short-term allergic reaction/rash, vaginal discharge/infection, possible fibroid passage, and post-embolization syndrome. The most common complications associated with hysterectomy are vaginitis, drug reactions, and urinary tract infections, with some more serious complications reported after 30 days including pneumonia, bowel injury, vaginal cuff herniation, and recurrent bleeding from the vaingal stump.


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