The non-cancerous outgrowth of muscle cells in your uterus are known as uterine fibroids. However, not everyone with fibroids has symptoms, and your gynecologist may discover them during a routine pelvic examination. Those with symptoms may feel pelvic pressure, have excessive bleeding, experience bleeding between periods, constipation, lower-back pain and also the need to urinate frequently.
Years ago, removing the entire uterus was the only way for the treatment of uterine fibroids. But now, there are effective, non-surgical treatment alternatives. Non-surgical options relieve fibroid symptoms without the need to have major surgery, allowing women to preserve their uterus and its functions. Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) boasts a shorter recovery, allowing busy women to have less down-time than a major surgery like hysterectomy.
Treating multiple fibroids without external scarring
Unlike other surgical approaches that are much more invasive, the UFE procedure is minimally invasive and uses a tiny catheter to block off specific arteries and blood vessels feeding the arteries. During the procedure, the supply of blood to the fibroids is cut off, causing them to shrink and ultimately die. The radiologist using live ultrasound guidance to isolate the blood supply for all the fibroids that need treatment, and thus can treat multiple fibroids at the same time. Surgeries such as hysterectomy or myomectomy causes external scarring either on your abdomen, uterus, or vagina; while on the other hand, UFE typically doesn’t result in any major scarring.
UFE is a more permanent solution when compared to hormonal therapy, as the fibroids usually regrow once the hormonal therapy is stopped. According to RadiologyInfo.org, “Follow-up studies over several years have shown that it is rare for treated fibroids to regrow or for new fibroids to develop after uterine fibroid embolization. This is because all fibroids present in the uterus, even early-stage nodules that may be too small to see on imaging exams, are treated during the procedure” (Uterine Fibroid Embolization, 2018).  About 93% of women who have had UFE, report an improvement in uterine fibroid symptoms three months after the UFE procedure.
Since the procedure only requires local anesthesia, there is less risk of major bleeding or pelvic infection after UFE. This is why women are able to return home the same day as their procedure.
Risks of Hysterectomy
Whether you have a partial or full hysterectomy, there are many side effects to consider. During a major surgery, there could be injury to nearby organs, issues with administering anesthesia, breathing or heart problems while under full sedation, blood clots in the legs or lungs, infection, heavy bleeding, early menopause, and pain during sexual intercourse. Major surgeries are difficult on the body and require more recovery time that has to be monitored closely by hospital staff. It is important to note that according to a study in the journal Human Reproduction (2011), overweight women who have invasive, abdominal surgery like hysterectomy, for noncancerous conditions such as fibroids, are at greater risk for internal bleeding and infection than women of normal weight. It was also found that women who are underweight could have more complications with laparoscopic and abdominal surgery, like myomectomy.
Preserving the childbearing potential
Given recent studies regarding UFE and pregnancy, UFE procedure works just as well as taking out the fibroids surgically. That’s the reason most women who wish to preserve their fertility potential opt for non-surgical UFE procedure for fibroids removal over other surgical methods in which they may have to lose their childbearing capability forever due to the removal of their uterus. UFE gives women hope compared to hysterectomy, where the uterus is either partially or fully removed from the body, offering no chance of future pregnancy.
Local anesthesia for non-surgical removal of uterine fibroids
If you have fibroids that need treatment, your gynecologist may recommend that you investigate fibroid removal without surgery, such as Uterine Fibroid Embolization procedures, sometimes also referred as Uterine Artery Embolization or UAE. The procedure is carried out by an interventional radiologist who will block the blood vessels supplying the fibroids, by injecting an embolic agent into the artery through a tiny, flexible tube called a catheter. The catheter is about the size of “pencil lead”, or approximately 1/8 inch, or sometimes smaller, in diameter. With UFE, no surgical incision is required—only a small nick in the skin occurs and does not have to be stitched. During the procedure, a live x-ray machine called a fluoroscopy, is used to convert x-rays into video images. The interventional radiologist used this to watch and guide the progress of the procedure, threading the catheter into the correct arteries. With no nutrients traveling through the arteries, the fibroids starve and shrink. Over the next 1-3 months, the fibroids will continue shrinking on their own and will be reabsorbed into the body.
After the procedure
Shrinking fibroids, versus removing them with major surgery, allows women to skip general anesthesia and a long, expensive hospital stay. Choosing a minimally invasive procedure allows for a speedier recovery, typically within 1-2 weeks, compared to hysterectomy which can take anywhere from 6-8 weeks to feel back to normal.
Your uterus is retained
USA Fibroid Centers offers specialized non-surgical fibroid treatment options to the women who want to remove their fibroid and also retain their uterus. Our experienced interventional radiologists make use of the latest innovations in non-surgical uterine fibroid removal methods. Specialists at the USA Fibroid Centers have successfully treated countless women of fibroid symptoms with UFE. Unlike hysterectomy, since the uterus is not removed in UFE procedure, the women can remain hopeful of bearing children in future.
If you are interested in learning more about UFE, schedule an initial consultation with one of our experience, interventional radiologists. For more information on non-surgical fibroid treatment options, visit https://www.usafibroidcenters.com/ or call at (855) 615-2555.
UFE treatment is covered by most major health insurance, and some Medicaid plans. Don’t see your plan listed on our website? Give us a call to verify!