Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) is a safe, minimally invasive treatment for uterine fibroids. It provides the same relief as surgery, but without harming the uterus.
Uterine fibroid embolization, also called uterine artery embolization, is a non-surgical procedure in which tiny particles are injected into the uterine arteries. These particles cut off the blood supply that feeds the fibroids, causing the fibroids to starve and shrink. Fibroid embolization can provide relief from heavy bleeding, pelvic pain, and other troubling symptoms of uterine fibroids.
The physicians at Interventional and Vascular Care are experienced providers of UFE in Dallas, TX.
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Uterine artery embolization is an image-guided, minimally invasive procedure performed through a single puncture in the leg or the arm. It is the least invasive treatment option for uterine fibroids.
Around 85% of women report that they are satisfied with their uterine fibroid embolization procedure 2 years later and 5 years later; this is equivalent to satisfaction rates following surgical treatment.
Quick, Simple Procedure
The uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) procedure usually takes around 45 minutes from start to finish.
Rapid Recovery Time
Full recovery time ranges from 1 to 2 weeks following uterine fibroid embolization; post-op pain usually subsides 3 to 4 days after the procedure.
Procedural complications occur in less than 10% of women that receive uterine fibroid embolization. Most uterine artery embolization complications can be managed during the procedure and do not cause long-term health consequences.
No Hospital Stay
An overnight hospital stay is NOT required, but a patient can expect to spend at least 6 hours in recovery after uterine fibroid embolization so operating room staff can monitor post-op pain.
How Does Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) Compare to Other Options?
Compared to surgical options like hysterectomy and myomectomy, uterine artery embolization offers the fastest recovery time, the shortest hospital stay, and the lowest risk of procedural complications. It is clinically proven to be just as effective as surgical options when it comes to symptom relief and patient satisfaction. Uterine artery embolization has the added advantage of keeping the uterus healthy and intact, so pregnancy after uterine artery embolization is still possible.
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What To Expect
Find out what to expect when treated with uterine artery embolization.
Get answers to common questions about uterine fibroid embolization.
Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) Dallas TX
Non-Surgical Treatment For Uterine Fibroids
"From the moment I setup the initial appointment to speak with Dr. Fritts, to after my final procedure, the entire staff was phenomenal. I have been to many specialists, for many reasons, and Dr. Fritts and his staff truly stand out. They understood the nature and complexity of my case and I was very at ease with our conversations as well as the "plan of attack." At no point did I feel like a number. No question was silly or stupid, and my complex case was never undermined. I highly recommend Dr. Fritts and his staff of experts."
-- Erin in Dallas, TX
Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) in Dallas, TX
Dr. Aaron Fritts, MD
Interventional & Vascular Specialist
Dr. Aaron Fritts is a board-certified Vascular & Interventional Radiologist that specializes in minimally invasive uterine fibroid treatment. Dr. Fritts is passionate about helping women overcome the debilitating symptoms of uterine fibroids, and because of his continued commitment to high quality care, Dr. Fritts was recently selected as a SuperDoctors Rising Star and has been voted one of D-Magazine's best doctors in Dallas.
Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) Procedure: What to Expect
Your visit to Interventional and Vascular Care (IVC) will begin with a review of your medical history, followed by a physical exam. Usually uterine fibroids can be diagnosed with a simple ultrasound exam of the lower abdomen.
Evaluation for Uterine Artery Embolization
An MRI scan may be used to rule out other conditions and confirm that any anomalies observed during your ultrasound are indeed fibroids. Your Vascular Specialist may also use an MRI or other imaging techniques to get a good look at your vascular anatomy and prepare for your uterine artery embolization procedure.
After checking in with the receptionist, the staff at IVC will provide you with a disposable gown and will be able to answer any questions you may have. You will have an IV placed in your arm for fluids and medications.
You will be moved to a bed surrounded by large imaging equipment that allows your Vascular Specialist to take live X-ray images of your major blood vessels during the procedure. Unless you request it, you will not require general anesthesia and will not be “put to sleep.” You will be provided with conscious sedation to relax you and minimize any pain during the procedure.
There are no major incisions required for the uterine artery embolization procedure, but a tiny puncture will be made in the forearm or the upper leg. Your Vascular Specialist will then proceed to navigate a small tube through this puncture to the blood vessels that supply your uterine fibroids and deliver therapy. The procedure usually takes less than an hour. Although you will be awake throughout the procedure, a specialized nurse will be monitoring you to keep you comfortable.
After your uterine fibroid embolization procedure, you will be taken to a recovery room for around 6 hours for monitoring. Throughout your recovery, IVC staff will ensure that your puncture site is properly closed and any post-op pain is under control. How long you stay in monitoring is usually at the discretion of the Vascular Specialist, and an overnight hospital stay may be recommended if you are experiencing more severe post-op pain.
Pain is normal following uterine artery embolization, and is typically present for 3 to 4 days. Over-the-counter medications can help with this pain and are usually sufficient, but additional pain control may be prescribed. In most cases, a full recovery is made 1 to 2 weeks following the procedure, after which you can gradually return to normal activities like work and exercise. The normal course of recovery usually includes some vaginal bleeding, which should become lighter in the months following uterine artery embolization as the fibroids continue to shrink.
Uterine Artery Embolization FAQs
Efficacy of Uterine Artery Embolization
(a) How successful is uterine artery embolization?
Clinical studies have established that uterine artery embolization is as effective at alleviating fibroid symptoms as hysterectomy or myomectomy surgery.³ In these studies, success is measured by asking women whether or not they are satisfied with treatment or by asking them about their experiences with fibroid symptoms. Two years after uterine artery embolization, around 85% of women report that they are satisfied with the procedure or remain free of fibroid symptoms. A similar percentage of women report that they are still happy with their results 5 years after treatment.
(b) How long does uterine artery embolization last?
For the majority of cases (around 65%), uterine artery embolization lasts indefinitely. However, clinical studies have shown that some women require an additional procedure (reintervention) following uterine artery embolization. Reintervention is often caused by the development of entirely new fibroids, or regrowth of existing fibroids that were only partially occluded during the first procedure. According to the highest quality clinical data, about 20% of women elect for reintervention within 2 years of their first procedure, increasing to 25-30% at 5 years.
Safety of Uterine Artery Embolization
(c) How safe is uterine artery embolization?
Procedural complications are uncommon in uterine artery embolization. The highest quality clinical studies have demonstrated that complications occur at a rate of 0% to 9%, and most complications can be managed during the procedure without long-term health consequences.
(d) What are the side effects of uterine artery embolization?
Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) side effects tend to resolve on their own within the first 30 days following the procedure. The most common side effects include: post-embolization syndrome (pain, nausea, mild fever, flu-like symptoms), hot flashes, vaginal discharge, fibroid expulsion, and hematoma formation (bruising). Less common side effects include UTI, urinary retention, urinary incontinence, thrombosis, thigh paresthesia, infection, and temporary amenorrhea (absence of menstruation).
The Uterine Artery Embolization Procedure
(e) How is uterine artery embolization performed?
The uterine artery embolization procedure begins with a small puncture in the upper thigh or the forearm that allows your Vascular Specialist to insert small tubes (called catheters) and wires into your artery. Using real-time fluoroscopic (x-ray) imaging, the Vascular Specialist guides a catheter to the arteries that feed your fibroids. With the catheter in place, the Vascular Specialist injects micro-sized beads through the catheter to stop blood flow to the fibroids. When the Vascular Specialist sees that blood flow to the fibroids has stopped, the catheter is removed from the body and the tiny puncture is sealed.
(f) How does uterine artery embolization work?
Uterine fibroids rely on a continuous supply of blood from the uterine arteries to maintain their size. Uterine artery embolization works by blocking (embolizing) the arteries that feed the fibroids with micro-sized particles. By eliminating the fibroids’ blood supply, the fibroids shrink over time.
(g) Where do they cut for uterine artery embolization?
There are no major incisions involved in the uterine artery embolization procedure. Only one tiny puncture is made in the upper thigh or in the forearm. This tiny puncture allows the Vascular Specialist to access your fibroids through your arteries and deliver therapy.
What to Expect After Uterine Artery Embolization
(h) What is the recovery time after uterine artery embolization?
Women undergoing uterine artery embolization should plan for 1 to 2 weeks of recovery before returning to normal activities like work and exercise. Multiple studies have looked at how long it takes for women to make a full recovery after uterine artery embolization. In most studies, uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) recovery time averages between 9 and 12 days, but exact recovery time will vary from person to person.
(i) Why is uterine artery embolization painful afterwards?
Uterine artery embolization works by inducing ischemia (blockage of blood flow) to the fibroids and depriving the fibroids of blood, oxygen, and nutrients. Although ischemia is the goal of the UFE procedure, ischemia may also activate pain signals that respond to oxygen deficiency. This is thought to cause cramping pain around the site of treatment for a few days after the procedure. Pain typically lasts for 3-4 days, and less frequent cramping pain can occur for up to 2 weeks following the procedure.
(j) What happens to fibroids after uterine artery embolization?
After uterine artery embolization, the blood vessels feeding the fibroids are blocked, causing the fibroids to receive an insufficient blood supply. This leads to an ischemic reaction in the fibroids (injury from lack of oxygen), which causes them to undergo necrosis (death of cells) and shrink.
(k) How much do fibroids shrink after uterine artery embolization?
Fibroids shrink by 40% to 75% in the first 6 months after uterine artery embolization, and continue to shrink over time. This causes the uterus to shrink by 26% to 59%, which is why uterine artery embolization is effective in alleviating fibroid symptoms.
(L) How long does it take for fibroids to shrink after uterine artery embolization?
Fibroids begin to shrink immediately after the uterine artery embolization procedure, and continue to shrink throughout the next year. Many women note improvement in their bleeding symptoms immediately following the procedure, but it can take up to 3 months for fibroids to shrink enough for women to notice major symptom improvements. In one study of uterine artery embolization, 200 women were asked about their symptoms 3 months after treatment. 87% of the women described improvement in their bleeding symptoms, and 93% described improvement in pelvic pain and pelvic pressure symptoms.
Efficacy of Uterine Artery Embolization
Safety of Uterine Artery Embolization
The Uterine Artery Embolization Procedure
What To Expect After Uterine Artery Embolization
 Gupta et al. (2014). Uterine artery embolization for symptomatic uterine fibroids (Review). Cochrane Library, (5).
 Younas K, Hadoura E, Majoko F, Bunkheila A. A review of evidence-based management of uterine fibroids. The Obstetrician & Gynaecologist 2016;18:33–42.
 Bulman, J.C., Ascher, S.M., Spies, J.B. (2012). Current Concepts in Uterine Fibroid Embolization. RadioGraphics, 32(6), 1735-1750.
 Khan, A. T., Shehmar, M., Gupta, J. K., & Gupta, J. (2014). Uterine fibroids: current perspectives. International Journal of Women’s Health, 6, 95–114.
 Spies, J. B. (2013). Current evidence on uterine embolization for fibroids. Seminars in Interventional Radiology, 30(4), 340–346
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