Uterine artery embolization is an approach to the treatment of fibroids which blocks the arteries that supply blood to the fibroids causing them to shrink without removing them. It is a minimally-invasive procedure, which means it requires only a tiny nick in the skin, and is performed while the patient is conscious but sedated - drowsy and feeling no pain.
Using angiography, the interventional radiologist guides a catheter through to the arteries to the uterus. The IR then injects tiny plastic particles the size of grains of sand into the artery that is supplying blood to the fibroid tumor. This cuts off the blood flow and causes the tumor (or tumors) to shrink. The artery on the other side of the uterus is then treated. Deprived of blood, nutrition, and oxygen, the fibroids shrink like over the three to six months following embolization, and the symptoms from the fibroids lessen as well.
Fibroid embolization usually requires a hospital stay of one night. Pain-killing medications and medications that control swelling typically are prescribed following the procedure to treat cramping and pain. Fever sometimes occurs after embolization and is usually treated with acetaminophen. Many women resume light activities in a few days and the majority of women are able to return to normal activities within seven to ten days.
While embolization to treat uterine fibroids has been performed since 1995, embolization of arteries in the uterus is not new. It has been used successfully by interventional radiologists for more than 20 years to treat heavy bleeding after child birth.
To find out if you may benefit from UAE, please contact your OB/GYN or primary care physician to arrange for a consult with an interventional radiologist.