Uterine Fibroid Embolization

Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) is a minimally invasive, nonsurgical treatment for uterine fibroids that preserves the uterus. UFE works by blocking the blood supply to the fibroids, causing them to shrink.

Fibroids are benign (not cancer) masses of fibrous and muscle tissue in the uterine wall. These growths can be very tiny or as large as a cantaloupe. In most cases, there is more than one fibroid. They are not associated with cancer, very rarely develop into cancer and do not increase the risk of uterine cancer.

Fibroids are also known by the names fibromyoma, leiomyoma, leiomyomata and myoma. They are named according to their position within the uterus; submucosal, intramural, and subserosal. A submucosal fibroid lies just under the inner lining of the uterus, the endometrium. Some of these fibroids grow on a stalk. These are referred to as "pedunculated." An intramural fibroid lies completely within the muscular wall of the uterus. A serosal or subserosal fibroid lies on the outer part of the uterus, just under the covering of the outside of the uterus, the serosa. Subserosal fibroids may also grow on a stalk and be called pedunculated.
Abnormal bleeding is usually caused by submucosal or intramural fibroids.
Intramural and subserosal fibroids are the usual cause of pelvic pain, back
pain, and the generalized pressure that many patients experience.
Because fibroids can be very small, they do not always have any symptoms
associated with them.

Some fibroids, however, can grow to be very large--even to the point of
making a woman look significantly pregnant.

In some women the size and location of a fibroid can cause pain, heavy
bleeding or prolonged periods.

Additional symptoms:

  • Heavy, prolonged menstrual periods, sometimes with clotting.
  • Bleeding between periods.
  • Anemia from excess bleeding.
  • Pelvic pain
  • Pelvic pressure or heaviness caused by the bulk or weight of the
    fibroids pressing on nearby structures.
  • Pain in the back or legs as the fibroids press on nerves that supply
    the pelvis and legs.
  • Pain during sexual intercourse.
  • Bladder pressure leading to a constant urge to urinate.
  • Pressure on the bowel, leading to constipation and bloating.
  • Abnormally enlarged abdomen

It is estimated that 20 to 40 percent of women over the age of 35 have uterine fibroids. Though very common, most never need any treatment.

African-American women are at a greater risk. Fifty percent may have fibroids of significant size.

Most women with fibroids begin to develop symptoms in their late 30's or 40's. Fibroids often stop growing, or even shrink, after menopause.
The cause of fibroids is unknown. It is suspected that a combination of genetics
and hormones may be responsible.

Your patient may be a candidate for UFE if they have fibroid symptoms such as:

  • Heavy, prolonged menstrual periods.
  • Pelvic pain or pressure.
Your patient is not a candidate for UFE if:
  • She is pregnant.
  • She has already gone through menopause.
  • She has pelvic inflammatory disease.
  • She has fibroids without any symptoms.

Benefits of UFE

Shorter hospital stay

UFE: less than 1 dayHysterectomy: 2.3 days

Return to work faster

UFE: 10.7 daysHysterectomy: 32.5 days

Fewer complications (after 30 days)

UFE: 12.7%Hysterectomy: 32%

For more information, please call our UFE hotline (310) 423-8694, option 4.

UFE Procedure Information for Patients

UFE Patient Information Sheet