Considering UFE for fibroid pain relief? Here’s what explain the benefits of the procedure, as well as what to expect before and after.
Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE), also known as Uterine Artery Embolization (UAE), is a minimally invasive procedure used to treat fibroids.
Here are some benefits of UFE for someone with fibroids:
Non-surgical approach: UFE is a non-surgical alternative to traditional surgery, such as myomectomy or hysterectomy. It involves a small incision or catheter insertion, which reduces the risks associated with surgery and eliminates the need for a large abdominal incision.
Preserves the uterus: UFE is a uterus-preserving procedure, making it a suitable option for women who wish to retain their fertility or avoid hysterectomy.
Symptom relief: UFE has been shown to provide effective relief from symptoms associated with fibroids, such as heavy menstrual bleeding, pelvic pain, pressure, and urinary frequency. Many women experience a significant improvement in their quality of life after the procedure.
Faster recovery: Compared to surgery, the recovery time following UFE is generally shorter. Most women can return to their regular activities within a week or two, although individual recovery times may vary.
Low recurrence rate: UFE has a low fibroid recurrence rate, meaning that the treated fibroids are less likely to return after the procedure. However, new fibroids can still develop in the future.
It’s important to note that UFE may not be suitable for everyone, and the best treatment option depends on factors such as the size, number, and location of the fibroids, as well as the individual’s overall health and preferences. Consulting with a healthcare professional who specializes in fibroid treatment can help determine if UFE is the right choice for you.
Here are some factors that may make someone a suitable candidate for UFE:
Symptomatic fibroids: UFE is commonly recommended for women who experience symptoms related to fibroids, such as heavy menstrual bleeding, pelvic pain, pressure, or urinary frequency.
Completed childbearing or future fertility preservation: UFE is generally more suitable for women who have completed their desired childbearing or those who wish to preserve their fertility, as there is a potential risk of infertility following the procedure.
Desire to avoid surgery: UFE offers a non-surgical alternative to traditional surgical treatments like myomectomy or hysterectomy. Women who prefer a minimally invasive approach or want to avoid surgery may consider UFE as an option.
No severe prolapse or other uterine conditions: UFE is typically not recommended for women with severe uterine prolapse or certain other uterine conditions that may affect the success of the procedure.
Overall good health: Candidates for UFE should generally be in good overall health to undergo the procedure. A thorough evaluation of the individual’s medical history, physical condition, and any potential contraindications is necessary to determine their suitability for UFE.
Pre-procedure preparation: Prior to the procedure, you may undergo imaging tests, such as an ultrasound or MRI, to evaluate the size, number, and location of your fibroids. You may also be instructed to avoid eating or drinking for a certain period before the procedure.
Anesthesia: UFE is usually performed under conscious sedation or general anesthesia. The specific anesthesia method will depend on your healthcare provider’s recommendation and your preferences.
Catheter insertion: A small incision is made in the wrist or groin area to access the femoral artery. A catheter (thin tube) is then inserted through the incision and guided to the uterine artery using X-ray guidance (fluoroscopy).
Embolization: Once the catheter reaches the uterine artery, tiny embolic particles are injected through the catheter into the blood vessels that supply blood to the fibroids. These particles block the blood flow, leading to shrinkage and reduction of the fibroids.
Aftercare & Post Procedure
Monitoring and recovery: Throughout the procedure, your vital signs will be closely monitored by a healthcare team. After the embolization is complete, the catheter is removed, and pressure will be applied to the incision site to prevent bleeding. You may be taken to a recovery area for observation.
Post-procedure recovery: You will be monitored for a few hours or overnight to ensure your stability. You may experience some pain, cramping, or nausea, which can be managed with pain medications and other supportive measures.
Follow-up care: You will receive instructions on post-procedure care, including limitations on physical activity, medications, and any necessary follow-up appointments. It’s important to attend all scheduled follow-up visits to monitor the effectiveness of the procedure and address any concerns.
Post-procedure recovery: You may spend a few hours or overnight in a recovery area, where healthcare providers will monitor your vital signs and ensure your stability. They will also manage any immediate post-procedure discomfort or pain.
Pain and discomfort: It is common to experience some pain, cramping, or discomfort after the procedure. Your healthcare provider may prescribe pain medications or recommend over-the-counter pain relievers to help manage these symptoms. They may gradually improve over several days to weeks.
Recovery time: The recovery time after UFE can vary, but most women can expect to return to their regular activities within one to two weeks. It’s important to follow your healthcare provider’s instructions regarding rest, physical activity, and limitations during the recovery period.
Post-procedure symptoms: You may experience symptoms such as fatigue, nausea, mild fever, or vaginal discharge after the procedure. These are generally temporary and should subside within a few days to weeks. If you have any concerns or experience severe symptoms, it’s important to contact your healthcare provider.
Follow-up appointments: You will have follow-up appointments with your healthcare provider to monitor the effectiveness of the procedure and assess your recovery progress. These appointments allow your healthcare provider to address any concerns or questions you may have.
Menstrual changes: After UFE, some women may experience changes in their menstrual patterns, such as lighter or shorter periods. It may take a few cycles to observe the full effects of the procedure on menstrual bleeding.
It’s important to note that individual experiences can vary, and specific instructions and guidance may differ based on your healthcare provider’s recommendations and your unique circumstances. Be sure to communicate with your healthcare provider, follow their instructions, and attend all scheduled follow-up appointments for optimal recovery and ongoing care.