Banner Health Services  

Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE)


What are uterine fibroids?
Fibroids are benign growths that develop in the muscular wall of the uterus.  These fibroids are very common in females and it is estimated that between 20 to 40 percent of women over age 35 have these fibroids. Symptoms related to uterine fibroids depend on location, size and number of fibroids and may include:

  • Heavy bleeding
  • Pelvic pain/bloating
  • Back and leg pain
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Constipation
  • Bladder pressure leading to a constant urge to urinate

These symptoms typically improve after menopause. Fibroids may range in size from very tiny to the size of a cantaloupe.

There are three types of uterine fibroids:

  1. Intramural fibroid - Develop within the uterine wall and expand, making the uterus feel larger than normal.  This can result in heavier menstrual flows and pelvic pain or pressure.  These are the most common fibroids.
  2. Subserosal fibroid - Develop in the outer portion of the uterus and expand outward. They typically do not affect a woman’s menstrual flow, but can become uncomfortable because of their size and the pressure they cause.
  3. Submucosal fibroid - Are deep within the uterus, just under the lining of the uterine cavity.  These are the least common fibroids, but they often cause symptoms, including very heavy and prolonged periods.

Uterine Fibroids

What is Uterine Fibroid Embolization?
Uterine fibroid Embolization (UFE) is a non-surgical, minimally invasive procedure performed by an interventional radiologist for the treatment of fibroid disease.

Requiring only a tiny nick in the skin and performed while the patient is conscious, but sedated, UFE is a treatment option sought by patients and referring physicians wishing to avoid such invasive procedures as hysterectomy and myomectomy.

UFE uses a moving X-ray or fluoroscopy to place a small tube or catheter through the artery until the catheter reaches the uterine artery and the branches feeding the fibroid(s). The interventional radiologist then releases tiny particles the size of sand into the vessels supplying blood to the fibroids. With their blood supply cut off, the fibroids shrink and degenerate while the uterus remains intact. UFE procedures generally take one to two hours to complete.

UFE Procedure  UFE Procedure

What is recovery like?

A minimally invasive procedure, UFE generally requires an overnight hospital stay. Most patients experience moderate to severe pain during the first day of recovery, but the pain is controlled with intravenous (IV) pain medication

The majority of women are able to return to work within one week of the procedure. The fibroids gradually decrease in size during the two to three months following treatment. Eighty to 90 percent of women report significant to total relief of symptoms after UFE.

UFE is considered to be a very safe procedure. However, as with all medical procedures, there are risks associated with UFE. The long-term impact of UFE on fertility is not yet known. Case reports indicate that some women who have had the procedure have become pregnant.

Follow Us:  
Facebook IconPinterestTwitter IconBlogYouTube Icon
Jump to top links