Fibroid Treatment: UFE (Uterine Fibroid Embolization)
Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) has been available since 1992 to spare the uterus by treating uterine fibroids. Fibroids are benign tumors of the muscular wall of the uterus. Approximately 10-20% of fibroids cause symptoms, including heavy, prolonged bleeding and cramping; pelvic pain and pressure; frequent urination and bowel movements; and painful intercourse. With the UFE procedure, patients experience 80-95% relief of their symptoms. There is an average 50% reduction in fibroid size within three months following the procedure. Patients followed up to six years have shown no regrowth of fibroids.
The patient reports to the (ATU) Ambulatory Treatment Unit at either MultiCare – Auburn Medical Center or UW Medicine – Valley Medical Center at 7:00 AM the morning of the procedure. Patients should have had nothing to eat or drink for at least six hours before the procedure. An IV is started, and antibiotics and fluid are administered. Other medications to prevent pain and nausea will also be given. The treatment is performed in the radiology special procedures suite. Under local anesthesia, a needle is used to gain access to the femoral artery in the right groin. Through this artery, a small tube is directed to reach the two arteries supplying the uterus. Small particles are injected to block these arteries and interrupt the blood supply to the fibroid tumors. When the tube is removed, the patient will return to the ATU.
In the first 24 hours after the procedure, plan to rest and do not drive a car. During this time, you can expect soreness. Within 48 hours, your pain should be reduced. 80% of patients report marked reduction in pain by day two. You should be able to resume your normal activity slowly. The radiology nurse will call you at intervals of two weeks, two months, and six months following the procedure. Feel free to call earlier if you have concerns.
Side Effects and Risks
There is a risk of infection anytime a needle is inserted into the body. If you have fever, redness, discharge at the needle insertion site, increased pain, or new pain, you should report it to the radiology nurse. There is a small risk of nerve damage, which the doctor will explain at the time of the procedure.