Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) is a non-surgical method of uterine fibroid treatment.
UFE has many advantages, but the main one is that UFE allows to keep the patient’s uterus fully functional without risks and complications of a fibroid surgery.
The method is based on blocking the blood flow to all fibroids, which leads to their independent extinction.
This minimally invasive procedure reduces the risks of complications and recurrence to almost zero, allowing a woman to return to a normal life in a short time.
Let’s take a closer look at how the UFE works.
You are encouraged to be well hydrated (drink lots of fluids) the day before the procedure. Nothing is to be taken by mouth after midnight the night before the procedure. One exception to this is if you take blood pressure medicine in the morning, this can be taken with small sips of water. Prepare your bedside table the night before (tissues, heating pad, thermometer, loose-fitting nightgown, important phone numbers of doctors, pharmacy). You will need someone to drive you home mid to late afternoon on the day of the procedure.
You will feel no pain during this 30-45 minute procedure, and you will sleep comfortably during this time. Intravenous sedation (fentanyl and versed) is used. After the procedure patients may experience a crampy pain like heavy menstrual cramps. This can last several hours and is significantly improved by the following morning. Patients are discharged home on the day of the procedure. Patients are given a prescription for the following four medications upon discharge:
The recovery period is usually 3-4 days, although I suggest patients take 1 week off from work if possible. The only restrictions after the procedure are:
If you are tolerating taking liquids by mouth, exhibit no bleeding from the point of entry in the groin, and the oral pain medicine is adequate in controlling the discomfort, you can go home. You will be discharged on an anti-inflammatory (like motrin) which you need to take for 5 days and a pain pill which is taken only as needed. The oxycodone (narcotic for pain) tends to cause constipation, so use a laxative if this occurs. The discomfort of constipation can add to the expected post-procedural discomfort. You can resume your normal light activities as you feel able which should be within 48-72 hours after the procedure. Don’t overdo it, and use pain/discomfort as your guide. Eat healthy foods and drink plenty of fluids. Boxer shorts are recommended over briefs (less irritating). Heating pads can be helpful for the discomfort. No aspirin or aspirin-like products should be used during the 5 days on the prescribed medications. Should you have any questions, day or night there is always a physician (Interventional Radiologist) on call to help you.
Today, uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) is the best alternative to hysterectomy. It saves the patient’s uterus and completely eliminates many dangerous risks of a surgery.
Hysterectomy has a 30% complication rate while in the hospital (typically, infection or fever), and an additional risk of more serious complications such as hemorrhage (requiring transfusion), or injury to the bladder, ureter or bowel. One-third of patients who underwent hysterectomy, undergo another related surgery within 2 years (examples: adhesions, bowel obstructions). Surgically removing an enlarged fibroid uterus weakens the pelvic floor muscles, which often lead to urinary leaking or incontinence. Other risks include:
Your doctor may recommend uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) as an alternative to hysterectomy, which is essentially fibroid treatment without surgery.