Uterine Fibroid Embolization — an AlternativeUterine fibroids — non-cancerous tumors that grow in the uterus — affect about 25 to 50 percent of women. The cause is unknown. Most women with uterine fibroids are unaware they have them, because they have no symptoms. However, some women have severe symptoms including heavy and prolonged menstrual periods, urinary problems, and pelvic pain and pressure.
“In the past, hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) was the primary treatment for uterine fibroids,” said William Rilling, MD, FSIR, Medical College of Wisconsin interventional radiologist and director of Vascular and Interventional Radiology at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin. “But hysterectomy is major surgery and some women want to retain the uterus.” Today, uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) offers an effective, non-surgical treatment for women with symptomatic uterine fibroids. “We work closely with our colleagues in Gynecology; patients who are not good candidates for UFE can often be treated with other minimally invasive surgical options,” Dr. Rilling said.
The UFE ProcedureTo begin the embolization procedure, a woman receives mild intravenous sedation. Next, a small catheter (thin tube) is inserted into the femoral artery (in the thigh) and guided into the left uterine artery. A contrast material visible with X-ray is injected into the artery. This allows the physician to view the blood vessels. Next, a small catheter is guided into the uterine artery through which the physician injects tiny gelatin particles. The process is repeated in the right uterine artery. The particles flow into the fibroids, blocking small arteries and depriving the fibroids of their blood supply. Following an overnight hospital stay, most women can return to normal activities within a week.
“UFE is successful for resolving symptoms in 88 to 90 percent of women who have this procedure,” Dr. Rilling said. “Women who had heavy menstrual bleeding notice a difference in symptoms right away, and women who had pelvic pain and pressure tend to feel better by two months. By six months, the dominant fibroids are usually reduced by 50 percent, and they continue to shrink.”
Source: Froedtert Today
Date: September 2006