women talking about uterine fibroid embolization

Uterine Fibroid Embolization

In 2018, Featured Articles, Newsletter, Volume 11 Issue 2 by Addison Clark

Uterine fibroids (leiomyomas) are non-cancerous tumors that grow from the muscle cells in the uterus. The tumors are not dangerous and do not spread within the body. Women with uterine fibroids may have symptoms including heavy menstrual bleeding, pain or pressure in the abdomen or pelvis, enlargement of the abdomen, constipation, frequent urination, or painful intercourse. Most women learn of their uterine fibroids after an ultrasound or MRI exam.

Uterine fibroids are common in women who are in their early to mid 40’s. Increased risk factors include obesity and high blood pressure. Women who are over the age of 40 as well as those who have a family history of fibroids or are of African-American descent are at an increased risk for developing fibroids.

Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) is a minimally invasive, highly effective procedure for the treatment of uterine fibroids (leiomyoma). Endorsed by by the American College of Gynecology as a primary treatment for uterine fibroids, UFE provides faster recovery than surgical options with most women returning to normal activities in 7-10 days, compared with 6 – 8 weeks for traditional hysterectomy. UFE is also significantly less invasive than a traditional hysterectomy.

Despite these advantages to traditional hysterectomy, many women are not aware of the benefits of UFE. One in five women with fibroids believe that traditional hysterectomy is the only treatment available to them. Almost 50% of women with fibroids have never heard of UFE. Almost 80% of women who know of UFE only happened to learn about it through friends and family, which is why patient education is so important.

Uterine Fibroid Embolization is performed through a tiny incision in the skin, usually less than a quarter inch at the groin or the wrist, compared to the 5 to 7 inch incision of a traditional hysterectomy. The Interventional Radiologist the guides a tiny catheter into the uterine arteries and releases tiny particles to block the blood flow into the uterine fibroids. Once the blood supply is cut off, the fibroids are starved of oxygen and nutrients, causing them to shrink. Most women only have a short, overnight stay in the hospital following the embolization.

The Board Certified and Fellowship Trained Interventional Radiologists at VIVA have been pleased to offer UFE to our patients in the Fredericksburg community for over 20 years.

Women who may have fibroids are welcome to directly schedule a consultation with our office at 540-654-9118 or request a referral through their OB-GYN or primary care provider.

Cindy Greenwood, NP has served patients at VIVA for nearly nine years. When Cindy was diagnosed with uterine fibroids, she became a patient herself. Ms. Greenwood appreciates the ability to share her positive experience and spread awareness of this alternative to surgery. “Being a Nurse Practitioner in Radiology, I saw many women go through this procedure with great success. When I developed symptoms, I knew that this would be the procedure that I would choose over any other treatment.”
Prior to the procedure I experienced heavy menstrual periods with severe abdominal cramping. I was also going to the bathroom every hour due to frequent urination. The heavy bleeding led to feelings of embarrassment and I often did not want to leave the house in fear I would soil my clothes. The pain was so intense I had to take ibuprofen on a regular basis. Since the procedure my menstrual flow has significantly decreased, I am able to leave my home with more confidence and I no longer need ibuprofen during my period. The procedure has definitely increased my quality of life.