Uterine Fibroids are the most common benign tumor diagnosed in women. Uterine Fibroids do however cause heavy bleeding, pelvic bloating and pressure, constipation and frequent urination. They can range in size from the very small, several millimeters, to a softball size or even larger. Occasionally, they can cause the uterus to grow to the size of a second or third trimester pregnancy and in most cases there is more than one fibroid in the uterus.
Fibroids can be found in three locations within the uterus: subserosal, intramural and submucosal. Subserosal fibroids develop under the outside covering of the uterus and expand outward through the wall, giving the uterus a bloated appearance on ultrasound and MRI scan. Intramural fibroids are located within the wall of the uterus and can grow in size over time to cause symptoms relating to their size as well as heavy bleeding. Submucosal fibroids are directly under the lining of the uterine cavity, and even if very small, can be associated with heavy menstrual bleeding.
At Mountain Medical, Uterine Fibroid Embolization significantly relieves symptoms or completely goes away altogether. The treatment is non-surgical and requires little to no recovery time. The main benefit would be one's uterus remains preserved, wherein a hysterectomy, it is taken out entirely.
Numerous clinical studies performed throughout the world show 86 - 95% effectiveness in either significant improvement or complete resolution of symptoms following embolization. The procedure is equally effective for single fibroids, multiple fibroids and even large fibroids. Recurrence of symptoms related to fibroids is rare; with studies showing range of 5 - 12% return of symptoms, whether that involves growth of new fibroid or re-growth of a previously treated fibroid. Uterine fibroid embolization does not prevent any future treatment of fibroid diseases, whether that includes all surgical options or a second fibroid embolization; a small percentage of patients successfully undergo a second embolization for recurrence of symptoms, with excellent results.
UFE is performed by an interventional radiologist who guides a thin, tiny catheter to the fibroid's blood supply to release small particles blocking the small blood vessels and depriving the fibroid of nutrients. Recovery is on an individual basis but typically the procedure is performed as an outpatient though some patients may request 23 hours for observation and pain control management. All women who undergo fibroid embolization will have cramping and pelvic pain/discomfort for the first 4 - 6 hours, which is treated with a combination of intravenous anti-inflammatory and narcotics via patient controlled anesthesia (PCA pump).
Patients are then followed closely by telephone and also in-clinic visits during the first several weeks, and all undergo one final MRI pelvis and clinic visit at 6 months. All patients are instructed to return to their primary care physician or gynecologists for ongoing medical care, and to take a week of work off following the procedure. Most women return to full activity within 5 - 10 days following the embolization.
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