Is Uterine Artery Embolization (UAE) The Best Treatment For Fibroids?

The Atlanta Fibroid Center (named a Fibroid Center of Excellence) helps women gain relief from symptomatic uterine fibroids. These expert doctors have over 40 years of extensive experience performing uterine artery embolization for symptomatic fibroids.

Uterine fibroids affect over 70% of the female population in the world. It is interesting that there has not been significantly more emphasis on education and research on fibroids, given their prevalence and often debilitating symptoms.

Because of the general lack of knowledge regarding these benign growths that form in and on the uterus, there is much misinformation circulating about them and the methods that are available for treatment. Today, we are going to discuss a treatment called uterine artery embolization for fibroids. We are going to talk about what it is, how it works, why it is used, how it is done, the advantages it offers, and the results that can be expected.

Just In Case You Are Unfamiliar with Uterine Fibroids

Uterine fibroids (myomas) are tumors that develop inside and in other various locations throughout the uterus. These growths have no known cause, but we do have some idea about the factors that put a woman at a higher risk of developing them. For some women, they pose no problems, and they may be unaware they even have them; for others, the symptoms they create are so severe that they interrupt their career, social life, and relationships.

Symptoms of very heavy and drawn-out menstrual cycles, pain in the pelvic region, abdominal pressure and discomfort, painful sex, frequent urination, and a protruding abdomen are indicative of these tumor growths. Some women even develop a serious medical condition called anemia due to blood loss during their period.

Most Offered Fibroid Treatment Options

Women who are experiencing these symptoms may think they are normal and will just suffer silently, or if they seek help from their OB/GYN, they may be diagnosed with fibroids. In many cases, her doctor will provide her with a few treatment options, which may include:

Medication or birth control-based treatments
Prescription medication may be suggested that can help alleviate symptoms but will not eliminate myomas. These medications often have nasty side effects, and therefore, can only be used for a short amount of time. Some oral birth control pills or an IUD may help quell the heavy bleeding, but they will not get rid of the fibroids.
This is a surgery that is usually performed with a laparoscope using small incisions that are created in the abdomen. An OB/GYN cuts out each growth individually and takes it out it through one of the abdominal incisions. Many of them are hard to cut out because of their location or size and it is not unusual for some to be too difficult to eliminate.

This process can leave the uterus weaker and compromised, to the point that a C-section would be mandatory if the woman were to conceive and give birth. Several of these women will find out their growths have come back within 5 years, and some will need to undergo additional surgery or a hysterectomy.

Of the over half a million hysterectomies that are performed each year in the U.S., only a small percentage of them are medically necessary (cases of cancer). A large majority of them are done to eliminate the symptoms of common uterine fibroids. This drastic surgery removes the uterus and will prevent the return of fibroids, but it also prevents any future pregnancy and elevates the woman’s risk of other serious health issues such as heart attack, stroke, memory, and mental health concerns.

Most women we work with at the Atlanta Fibroid Center were only offered surgical options by their doctors when given their fibroid diagnosis. They chose to do their own research before having surgery and fortunately found information about UAE online and contacted us.

What Is Uterine Artery Embolization For Fibroids?

Also known as UAE and UFE (uterine fibroid embolization), this procedure targets fibroids and eliminates them without invasive surgery. It has been proven effective in reducing or eliminating the symptoms created by these uterine growths. It is done by an interventional radiologist who has been specialty trained to perform this procedure which OB/GYNs are unable to perform.

How The UAE Fibroid Treatment Is Done

At the Atlanta Fibroid Center, this non-surgical treatment is performed as an outpatient procedure in under an hour and does not involve a stay in the hospital. The patient is treated while under conscious sedation, so the risks associated with the use of general anesthesia are avoided. The steps of the UAE procedure include:

  1. The patient is sedated for ultimate comfort;
  2. A small nick is placed in the top of the thigh area, and with the help of our in-house state-of-the-art angiography imaging equipment, a specialized catheter is threaded through the blood vessels to the uterine arteries;
  3. Tiny particles are injected through the catheter to cut off the blood that is feeding the fibroids. Without this vital blood source, the fibroids shrink and die;
  4. The catheter is removed and the upper groin nick is thoroughly cleansed, and a band aid is applied;
  5. Patients spend a few hours in the recovery room for observation and are then transported home by a friend of a loved one to recover.
Uterine Fibroid Embolization in Atlanta, GA

Why The UAE Procedure For Fibroids Works Better Than Surgery

  • Uterine artery embolization, when used to treat fibroids, does an effective job of alleviating the symptoms of these growths while sparing the integrity and entirety of a woman’s uterus;
  • Unlike myomectomy, which is often unable to reach and remove certain growths, uterine artery embolization can target and deal with all of the myomas in the uterus, no matter their location, size, or number;
  • UAE is less invasive, has a lower risk profile, and offers a significantly shorter recovery time;
  • There are no surgical incisions created, so there is a much lower chance of scarring, infection, or additional complications;
  • Women can avoid losing their uterus and the long-term side effects that come with a hysterectomy;
  • UFE preserves fertility. The uterus is left whole and uncompromised, so it will be strong if needed for childbirth in the event of a future pregnancy;
  • The UAE procedure for fibroids is over 90% effective in significantly reducing or totally eliminating symptoms such as heavy menstrual bleeding, pelvic pressure, and pain these tumors inflict;
  • Most women find their symptoms have been relieved just a few months after their procedure, if not before;
  • Using UFE for fibroids can eliminate the need to try medications that are not only ineffective in getting rid of these tumors, but can create some serious side effects.

Not Everyone Is A Good Fit For UAE

UAE would not be a viable choice for someone who

  • Is with child;
  • Has an allergy to the contrast solution;
  • Has any health issues that would affect the blood vessels, arteries, or veins;
  • Has a health condition such as pelvic inflammatory disease.

What Results Can Be Expected From UAE For Fibroids?

Uterine artery embolization is considered a very effective treatment for eliminating uterine fibroids. During the procedure, tiny particles are injected that block the blood vessels that are keeping the fibroids alive.

Once the growths are cut off from their blood supply, they start to shrink and reduce in size, which alleviates the pain and pressure caused by them pressing on nearby organs and nerves. Also, within a few months, women usually notice a huge improvement in how much they bleed during their period as well as how long their cycle lasts. Many women are able to conceive and have a baby after the treatment because these growths are no longer impacting their fertility and they still have their uterus.

When asked their thoughts about undergoing UAE for fibroids, the majority of women will report that their quality of life has been much improved and their daily schedule is no longer dictated by these unwanted growths. They share that their work, home, and intimate lives run much smoother, and their only regret about the UAE procedure is that they didn’t do it sooner.

If you are suffering from the awful symptoms of fibroids, contact the Atlanta Fibroid Center before you opt for invasive surgery. Make sure you know all the options available to you and the risks and benefits they provide before making your treatment choice. Book your appointment today to find out how non-invasive UAE can help you get rid of nasty fibroid symptoms without going under the knife.

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