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Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE)

You have symptomatic uterine fibroids and have been told you need a hysterectomy or myomectomy. You might not like the idea of surgery, and you are wondering about other treatment options. You may be a candidate for a simpler, easier treatment - UFE.


What is UFE? Frequently Asked ?'s

Fibroid tumors of the uterus are very common, but for most women, they either do not cause symptoms or cause only minor symptoms. Fibroids can cause very heavy menstrual bleeding, clotting and pelvic pain, leading many women to seek treatment. Fibroids often fail to respond to medical therapy and then surgical procedures are often recommended.

This procedure is performed by Interventional radiologists, specially trained doctors who use X-rays and other imaging techniques to "see" inside the body. They guide narrow tubes (catheters) and other very small instruments through the blood vessels and other pathways of the body to the site of a problem, treating a variety of medical disorders without surgery. Procedures performed by Interventional Radiologists (IRs) are generally less costly and less traumatic to the patient, involving smaller incisions, less pain, and shorter hospital stays.

Uterine fibroids are the most common tumors of the female genital tract. You might hear them referred to as "fibroids" or by several other names, including leiomyoma, leiomyomata, myoma and fibromyoma. Fibroids are noncancerous (benign) growths that develop in the muscular wall of the uterus. While fibroids do not always cause symptoms, their size and location can lead to problems for some women, including pain and heavy bleeding.

The exact causes for fibroid development are unclear, but researchers have linked them to both a genetic predisposition and a subsequent development of susceptibility to hormone stimulation. Women may have a genetic predisposition to fibroid development and then subsequently develop factors that allow fibroids to grow under the influence of a number of hormones. This would explain why certain ethnic groups or racial groups are more likely to develop fibroids and also why there tends to be genetic predisposition in some families.

Fibroids range greatly in size from very tiny (a quarter of an inch) to larger than a cantaloupe (10 inches or more). In some cases they can cause the uterus to grow to the size of a five-month pregnancy and the woman looks as though she is pregnant. In most cases, there is more than one fibroid in the uterus.

Fibroids can be located in various parts of the uterus. There are three primary types:

Subserosal fibroids, which develop under the outside covering of the uterus and expand outward through the wall, giving the uterus a knobby appearance. They typically do not affect a woman's menstrual flow, but can cause pelvic pain, back pain and generalized pressure. The subserosal fibroid can develop a stalk or stem-like base, making it difficult to distinguish from an ovarian mass. These are called pedunculated. The correct diagnosis can be made with either an ultrasound or magnetic resonance (MR) exam.

Intramural fibroids, which develop within the lining of the uterus and expand inward, increasing the size of the uterus, and making it feel larger than normal in a gynecologic internal exam. These are the most common fibroids. Intramural fibroids can result in heavier menstrual bleeding and pelvic pain, back pain or the generalized pressure that many women experience.

Submucosal fibroids, which are just under the lining of the uterus. These are the least common fibroids, but they tend to cause the most problems. Even a very small submucosal fibroid can cause heavy bleeding gushing, very heavy and prolonged periods.



Am I a candidate for Fibroid Embolization?
Most patients are candidates for UFE, based upon their medical condition, imaging studies, and lifestyle.  Make an appointment in our office to see if UFE is the right choice for you.


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