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How Does the Procedure Work?
By blocking blood flow to the fibroids, uterine fibroid embolization "starves" them of the blood they need to grow. When deprived of blood, the tumor masses die, and then develop into scar tissue and shrink in size. The symptoms they previously caused become less bothersome or disappear altogether. All fibroids are treated during the a single uterine fibroid embolization procedure.
How Is UFE Performed?
During UFE the patient receives pain medication for a "twilight sleep." The uterine arteries are most easily accessed from the femoral artery, which is at the crease at the top of the leg. Following administration of local anesthesia, an interventional radiologist will make a tiny cut in the skin in the groin area. Using x-ray guidance and periodic injections of radiographic contrast material to map the blood vessels, a tube called a catheter is threaded through the skin nick and ultimately into the uterine arteries. Under x-ray observation, the interventional radiologist injects tiny, round particles through the catheter into the blood vessels leading to the fibroids. The particles block blood flow to the fibroids, which results in fibroid shrinkage and symptom relief. This process is repeated in the other uterine artery so the blood flow feeding the fibroids is completely blocked. After completing uterine fibroid embolization, the site of skin puncture is cleaned and bandaged.
What Will I Experience During the Procedure?
The procedure takes about one hour to complete and requires an overnight hospital stay. Patients typically experience pelvic cramps for several days, and possibly, mild nausea and low-grade fever as well. The cramps are most severe during the first 24 hours after the procedure and improve rapidly over the next several days.
Most patients will recover from the effects of the procedure within one to two weeks and will be able to return to their normal activities.
It usually takes two to three months for the fibroids to shrink enough so that bulk-related symptoms such as pain and pressure improve. Patients often see a reduction in bleeding symptoms during the first or second menstrual cycle following the procedure.
Most women are able to return to work one to two weeks after uterine fibroid embolization, but occasionally patients take longer to recover fully.
For more information, please call our UFE hotline (310) 423-8694 and press option 4.
The S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center provides a full range of advanced imaging, both radiology and cardiology, as well as interventional radiology and interventional tumor (oncology) treatments to the greater Los Angeles area, including Beverly Hills, Encino, Mid-Cities, Sherman Oaks, Silver Lake, Studio City, Toluca Lake, and West Hollywood.