Uterine fibroid embolization
Uterine fibroids develop when muscle fibers from the uterus grow and form a mass. They're almost always benign, and many women don't even realize they have them.
For some women, symptoms can become uncomfortable at best and debilitating at worst, including excessive menstrual bleeding and painful periods and/or intercourse.
When fibroids interfere with your quality of life, it may be time to discuss options to minimize or eliminate your symptoms with your HonorHealth gynecologist.
Minimally invasive way to shrink fibroids
One option for dealing with fibroids is uterine fibroid embolization. Your gynecologist may refer you to an interventional radiologist to see if you're a candidate for this minimally invasive procedure.
Uterine fibroid embolization is typically an option whether or not you're planning on becoming pregnant in the future. However, if you're planning on becoming pregnant, it's important to discuss all of your options with your gynecologist and interventional radiologist.
Because uterine fibroid embolization is not surgical, it offers a way to relieve your symptoms without involving a lot of down time. It's also a good option if you don't want to undergo general anesthesia or want to avoid a hysteroscopy.
Prior to scheduling the procedure, your radiologist will do a pelvic MRI to ensure your anatomy is right for the procedure and to determine the number and location of your fibroids.
Here's how the procedure works
- You'll receive IV sedation to make you comfortable and relaxed for the procedure.
- A thin, flexible tube called a catheter will be placed into the femoral artery in your upper thigh/groin area. The radiologist will view your uterus on a video screen, enabling him or her to guide the catheter to the arteries supplying blood to your fibroids. The radiologist will then inject tiny micro-spheres that look like little beads through the catheter. These beads build up in the targeted arteries and cut off the blood supply to the fibroid(s). Whether you have one fibroid or many, the beads can cut the blood supply to all of them in one procedure.
You'll likely stay in an HonorHealth hospital overnight and go home the next day. You'll probably need only anti-inflammatory medication and a prescription to take, as needed, for any pain. Most patients are able to return to work and normal activities within seven to 10 days.
After your procedure
Fibroid symptoms such as bleeding often resolve immediately. Other symptoms — pain, bloating, pressure, urinary frequency — begin to resolve as the fibroids shrink over the next few months. At the three-month follow-up appointment, symptoms typically are mostly or completely gone.