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It’s important for patients experiencing uterine fibroids to weigh their treatment options carefully. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the procedure, please call the VCU Uterine Fibroid Embolization hotline at (804) 828-4914.

What are uterine fibroids?

Uterine fibroids are benign, noncancerous growths within or on the muscular walls of the uterus that range in size from ¼-inch to the size of a cantaloupe. They are relatively common and affect 20 percent to 40 percent of women of child-bearing age.

What are the symptoms of uterine fibroids?

  • Heavy, prolonged menstrual periods
  • Premenstrual pelvic pain and menstrual cramping
  • Pelvic pain and/or pressure
  • Back, flank or leg pain
  • Urinary frequency or incontinence
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms, such as constipation or bloating

What is uterine fibroid embolization?

Uterine fibroid embolization is an alternative to traditional treatments that include the surgical removal of the fibroids (myomectomy) or removal of the entire uterus (hysterectomy). UFE blocks the blood supply to the fibroids, causing them to shrink. It is a minimally invasive procedure and is clinically proven to be successful in reducing the major symptoms of fibroids.

Who is a candidate for UFE?

UFE may be appropriate for patients who meet the following criteria:

  • Over the age of 18
  • Have documented symptomatic fibroids and have been given recommendation to have hysterectomy or myomectomy
  • Not pregnant
  • Malignancy not present
  • Not a candidate for surgery
  • Wish to preserve the uterus
  • Wish to remain fertile
  • Do not have a pelvic infection
  • Presence of symptoms, including pain, pressure, constipation, heavy bleeding

Who is not a candidate for UFE?

While UFE is an effective, non-invasive option for some women, it may not be for all patients, including those who have:

  • Asymptomatic fibroids
  • Infection or pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Suspicion of malignancy

What are the advantages of UFE?

There are several advantages offered by the UFE procedure:

  • Minimally invasive
  • Safe
  • Efficacious
  • Performed on an outpatient basis
  • Allows for faster recovery; usually return to work in seven to 10 days
  • Lower overall financial costs

UFE may also allow maintenance of fertility. Several studies have shown that women have become pregnant and given birth to healthy babies after undergoing UFE.

What are the disadvantages or risks of UFE?

There are a few risks associated with UFE, including:

  • 10 percent to 15 percent of patients do not respond to embolization
  • Pelvic pain that can last up to several days following the procedure
  • Premature ovarian failure, which occurs in 1 percent of patients
  • Contrast allergy
  • Embolization material leak, which is rare

Will my insurance cover this procedure?

Most insurance companies cover UFE.

Will my heavy periods go away after UFE?

A majority of UFE patients experience an improvement in bleeding and pelvic pain, as well as bowel, bladder or pelvic fullness.

Will my fibroids totally disappear after UFE?

Within three to six months, you should notice a 50 percent reduction in the size of your fibroids, and an 80 percent reduction after the first year. Overall, you should experience a 90 percent improvement of your symptoms.