ufe vs ablation in treating heavy bleeding due to fibroids

UFE Vs. Ablation

Both UFE and ablation are often offered by specialists to treat uterine fibroids in women but it is important to know that while ablation can help stop heavy vaginal bleeding of non-structural causes, it does not eliminate the fibroids. Today we want to give you a clear understanding of the capabilities and limitations of endometrial ablation vs. UFE for treating symptomatic uterine fibroids.

Uterine Fibroid Embolization in Atlanta, GA

Endometrial ablation and uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) are two different procedures, although they are often mistaken for one another. Ablation is used to destroy a layer of the uterine lining while UFE is used to shrink and eliminate fibroids.

UFE Vs. Ablation: Key Differences

Ablation UFE
Procedure performed by An OB/GYN An Interventional Radiologist (like Dr. John Lipman)
Addresses bleeding from Non-structural causes, e.g. hormone issues Structural causes, such as fibroids
The lining of the uterus Is destroyed Is kept intact
Will shrink or eliminate fibroids No Yes, 90% success rate on all fibroid types
Allows for Future Pregnancy No Yes!
Can treat Adenomyosis No Yes

What Is Uterine Ablation?

Uterine ablation or endometrial ablation is a procedure performed by a gynecologist that is used most often to treat heavy menstrual bleeding which is why OB/GYNs often suggest it to women suffering from this common symptom of fibroids. The procedure destroys a layer of the uterine lining and reduces or sometimes stops the flow of menstruation. Endometrial ablation does not treat or affect fibroids in any way.

How to Know If You Are Having Heavy Period Bleeding?

Women do not often share details when it comes to their menstrual cycles. So how do you know if what you experience during your menstrual cycle is normal? If you are experiencing any of these symptoms then you are most likely losing too much blood each month and should consult your doctor.

  • Continually soaking a pad or tampon every two hours or less;
  • You bleed for more than 7 days;
  • You lose 80ml or more of blood during your period;
  • You develop symptoms of anemia;
  • You pass blood clots bigger than a quarter;
  • Bleeding so much you cannot go anywhere.

Some more serious symptoms of menorrhagia are:

  • Feeling dizzy or faint;
  • Migraine-like headaches
  • Chew/crave ice, corn starch, chalk, clay, or dirt.
  • Increased heart rate;
  • Low blood pressure.

Types of Uterine Ablation

  • Electrosurgery. Requires general anesthesia. An instrument such as a wire loop is used to carve thin trenches into the outermost layer of the lining of the uterus using heat.
  • Cryoablation. Uses extreme cold to freeze and destroy the top layer of the uterus. The doctor uses real-time ultrasound to guide and track their progress.
  • Hot fluid-free-flowing. Saline fluid is heated and used to “wash” the inside of the uterus for about 10 minutes. This process works best for women who have an irregular-shaped or distorted uterus.
  • Heated balloon. Uses heated fluid via a balloon device that is inserted through the cervix.
  • Microwave. A wand that emits microwaves is used to heat the outer lining of the uterus.
  • Radiofrequency. A device that emits radiofrequency vaporizes the tissue in just a few minutes. We’ve previously discussed in detail radiofrequency endometrial ablation in the article UFE Vs. Acessa™: What Should I Opt For?

Video: UFE Vs. Ablation: Is Endometrial Ablation a Good Option for Fibroid Treatment?

What to Expect From Uterine Ablation?

The uterus is accessed through the passageway between the vagina and cervix so incisions are not necessary for endometrial ablation. Sometimes the cervix must be dilated so the OB/GYN can gain access to the uterine lining. A surgical tool will be inserted into the passageway and one of many methods will be used to remove the outer lining of the uterus. Ablation can be done using a heated liquid, extreme cold, microwave energy, or high-energy radiofrequency.

Depending on which type of ablation procedure is being performed, and the size and condition of your uterus, the doctor may do the ablation under general anesthesia or local anesthesia and could perform the procedure in their office or an operating room.

After the procedure you may experience:

  • A watery/bloody discharge for a few weeks with the first few days being the heaviest.
  • Menstrual-type cramps that over-the-counter medication may alleviate.
  • Nausea.
  • You may feel the need to urinate more frequently for the first few days.

Uterine ablation is not recommended for:

  • Certain abnormalities or disorders of the uterus.
  • Cancer of the uterus, or an increased risk of uterine cancer.
  • Active pelvic infection.
  • Postmenopausal women.
  • Recent pregnancy.
  • Current or recent infection of the uterus.

Risks of uterine ablation include:

  • Complications from anesthesia;
  • Pain;
  • Bleeding;
  • Infection;
  • Heat or cold damage to nearby organs;
  • A perforation injury of the uterine wall or nearby organs;
  • Future pregnancy is not recommended due to high risks.

Can Uterine Fibroids Be Treated With Ablation?

Sometimes endometrial ablation is suggested as a treatment for women with uterine fibroids when they are causing heavy bleeding. Fibroids are a structural cause of heavy bleeding so ablation for fibroids will only treat the heavy bleeding but will not address the fibroids or eliminate them. Since fibroids can continue to grow, heavy bleeding may continue as well as the other bulk symptoms of fibroids. If heavy bleeding is caused by a medical condition that is non-structural, then ablation may be an adequate treatment.

UFE Vs. Ablation: Future Fertility

Many patients who have had a uterine fibroid embolization procedure have had successful full-term pregnancies. In contrast, patients who would like to become pregnant should not have an endometrial ablation. Ablation is not a sterilization procedure, though many women can no longer conceive after having the procedure. While pregnancy is a remote possibility, it would be very high risk and could possibly result in an ectopic pregnancy or most likely, in miscarriage. After having an ablation, most patients are urged to undergo sterilization or use long-lasting contraception.

Uterine Fibroid Embolization – Safer and More Effective Option

If you are experiencing heavy bleeding due to fibroids, Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) is a non-surgical, outpatient procedure that treats all uterine fibroids, regardless of number and size. UFE fibroid embolization vs. ablation is more effective, less invasive, and allows women to keep their uterus and their fertility.

The Atlanta Fibroid Center’s team of doctors are some of the world’s most knowledgeable and experienced in the UFE procedure. With over ten thousand procedures performed, they have helped countless women to be free from fibroids while keeping their fertility options open and their uterus intact. If you are offered ablation for fibroids, get a second opinion because this procedure will not eliminate your fibroids or their symptoms. Set up an appointment at the Atlanta Fibroid Center and let them help you say goodbye to fibroids forever.

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