Details of Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE)
Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) is a minimally invasive procedure for the treatment of uterine fibroids. The procedure typically lasts less than an hour and requires only a small nick in the skin. The procedure blocks the blood supply to the uterine fibroids, causing them to shrink. As one of the alternatives to hysterectomy procedures, UFE is widely performed and relieves the symptoms of uterine fibroids.
The procedure starts with the delivery of sedation and pain medications through an IV. This helps relax patients and helps prevent any discomfort during the procedure. Most women don't remember much of the procedure since they are lightly sleeping during the hour long treatment.
Once sedation is delivered, an IV is placed into the artery in the groin area by Dr. Harris. Ultrasound is used to ensure safe placement of the IV. Once the IV is placed, a small catheter is steered into the left pelvic arteries which feed the fibroids. Fluoroscopy is used during this time to help guide the catheter into the correct position.
Once in position, an x-ray is taken to show the blood flow into the uterus and the fibroids. Once the correct position is ensured, very small plastic 'particles' are injected into the artery. These particles block the flow of blood into the fibroids, essentially starving them of blood.
The same technique is used in the womens right uterine artery (see picture) to shut down the blood supply to the right side of the fibroids. Both the left and right sided embolization takes about 45-60 minutes to complete.
The IV is removed from the artery and the artery is sealed closed to prevent bleeding.
Women recover for 2-3 hours after the procedure during which they are given any needed pain and nausea medications through their IV. Patients will recover for several hours then be discharged to the comfort of their home. No overnight hospitalizations and long rehabilitation is required. Patients are encouraged to return to normal activity as soon as the next day.
Uterine Fibroid Embolization Procedure
In the following video, Dr. Harris narrates an actual uterine fibroid embolization procedure. Woman can see what is involved in the UFE procedure from start to finish. This includes the x-ray images taken during the procedure as well as some of the equipment which is used.
Materials Used for a Fibroid Embolization Procedure
In the video below, Dr. Harris shows some of the simple materials used during a fibroid embolization. This short videoshould help convey the non-surgical, minimally invasive nature of having a UFE.