Uterine Fibroid Embolization
Uterine Artery Embolization
Uterine artery embolization is a technique that was first created in the 1970s to treat women who had significant bleeding after birth.
An interventional radiologist uses a catheter to insert a particle—or bead—into the arteries that supply blood to the uterus. Studies have shown that this is equally effective as myomectomy.
In the early 1990s, uterine artery embolization was developed as a technique to treat uterine fibroids.
The procedure has come to be known as uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) because it is viewed as a fibroid treatment, not simply to block off the uterine arteries.
About Uterine Fibroid Embolization
Embolization means to block off a blood vessel. The materials used to block the vessel include:
At Wake Forest Baptist Health, we use an FDA-approved material called a gelatin microsphere.
UFE at Wake Forest Baptist
The procedure is done in an interventional radiology procedure room. It takes about two hours.
Using x-rays, the interventional radiologist guides a catheter to the artery that feeds the uterus. The same incision is used to treat arteries on both sides of the uterus.
After the procedure, the patient leaves the room with a Band-Aid.
Dr. Brian Kouri says his patients tell him the procedure is not particularly painful. The patient cannot feel the catheter moving inside them during the procedure, nor can they feel the particles being infused.
Near the end of the procedure, once the blood supply to the uterus has been reduced, the uterus responds by cramping. This is a predictable response and is treated with pain and nausea medications.
The patient stays in the hospital overnight to make sure their pain and nausea are controlled.
Typically, once the patient leaves the hospital, pain and cramping reduces daily. Most of Dr. Kouri's patients report that they feel back-to-normal by day seven.
Benefits of Uterine Fibroid Embolization
The main benefit to UFE is that it is much less invasive than surgery. The patient is only in the hospital for a day and the recovery time is about a week.
The patient also retains her uterus, along with the possibility of having children.
Appointments with Dr. Kouri may be requested online or by calling 888-716-WAKE.