When it comes to actually choosing fibroid treatment, we understand it can be a frustrating and sometimes scary process. According to a recent study, it can sometimes take between one to three years before women decide to seek treatment for their symptoms. This is primarily because of three aspects in the decision process: the worry that fibroid treatment will be too expensive, that it will take too long to recover from, or that they will have to undergo a major surgery.
In fact, one in five women think hysterectomy is the only treatment option for treating fibroid symptoms. Thanks to medical advances over the last few decades, that is not the case. There are now many different treatment options including nonsurgical procedures like Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE).
What is UFE?
Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) is an outpatient procedure that alleviates fibroid symptoms. A real-time x-ray called fluoroscopy helps guide the catheter into the uterine artery that supplies blood to fibroids. Embolic particles are injected into the artery to block the blood flow causing them to shrink. Without a steady supply of oxygenated blood, the fibroids begin to starve and die. The injected embolic material remains permanently in the blood vessels at the fibroid site; therefore, the likelihood of the same fibroid returning to its normal size is rare.
This FDA-approved treatment is an effective solution for treating fibroid symptoms. Due to the fact that this a targeted treatment, only the fibroids are affected, meaning the uterus and ovaries are left completely unscathed. The UFE procedure takes about 30 to 45 minutes depending on the number of fibroids that are needed to be treated.
What are the benefits of UFE?
Due to the fact that Uterine Fibroid Embolization is a nonsurgical, outpatient treatment, there are many benefits for those who are trying to decide between UFE or undergoing surgery. For example, patients who choose UFE can expect:
- No hospital stay
- No general anesthesia or stitches
- Shorter recovery than surgery
- Less time off of work post-UFE
- No interference with hormones
- Retain fertility and uterine functions
- Full recovery in 1-2 weeks
- No interference with surrounding organs
- Lower risk of complications
When you look at the facts, you can see why so many people are choosing to try nonsurgical fibroid treatments like Uterine Fibroid Embolization. Many of our patients have told us that that they avoided treating their symptoms for years because they were scared they would lose their uterus. With UFE, your uterus is preserved. Another major concern our patients have shared with us is that they were worried that they would have to take an extensive amount of time off of work following treatment. When compared to surgical procedures that can take up to six to eight weeks for full recovery, UFE has a shorter recovery period of only one to two weeks.
Does UFE have fewer complications?
The simple answer is yes. At the Society of Interventional Radiology’s 2019 Annual Scientific Meeting, they presented that their studies had concluded that UFE had fewer post-procedure complications when compared to surgical procedures like myomectomy. Myomectomy is the surgical removal of fibroids through an incision in the lower abdomen. Myomectomy requires the use of general anesthesia, as well as stitches.
Their study analyzed 950 fibroid patients from January 2008 until December 2014. Half of the study underwent Uterine Fibroid Embolization and the other half went through myomectomy. It was found that “after an average seven-year follow up, the study found that women who underwent myomectomy had a higher rate of postprocedural complications, including a 2.9 percent rate of blood transfusion, which was significantly higher than the 1.1 percent rate for those who were treated using UFE.”
Due to UFE’s minimally invasive nature, this lower risk of complication is due to the fact that Interventional Radiologists utilize the body’s natural pathways, the arteries, rather than making any major incisions. UFE does not require general anesthesia, which boasts even more potential risks. If you have had adverse reactions to anesthesia, have diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney problems, lung condition, sleep apnea, neurological disorders, or are obese, UFE may provide patients with a less risk option when it comes to avoiding complications.
How effective is UFE?
According to the University of Michigan School of Medicine, 80 – 90 percent of women treated with UFE report that their overall symptoms had greatly improved in the first few months. Specifically in regards to a protruding abdomen, frequent urination, and constipation, complete relief was as high as 99 percent after UFE. In addition, fewer than 15% of women needed surgery or another UFE treatment according to a study conducted by the department of radiological sciences at the University of California, Irvine.
Are you a candidate for UFE?
Every woman experiences uterine fibroids differently; therefore, treatment decisions may vary. It is important to consult a fibroid specialist in order to learn if Uterine Fibroid Embolization is right for you. If you are struggling with painful symptoms, need more information about fibroids, or need to schedule a diagnosis, call us at 855-615-2555 or schedule online today.