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Houston Fibroid Treatment

Understanding UFE and How to Treat it

What are Uterine Fibroids?

Uterine fibroids are common benign tumors of the uterus. Approximately 25-50% of all women have uterine fibroids. Uterine fibroids occur most commonly in women 30-40 years old, and they affect African-American women more often than women of other ethnicities. Although fibroids are not cancerous, they can cause significant problems, such as heavy menstrual bleeding, pelvic pain, bloating and frequent urination.

How are Fibroids treated?

Hysterectomy has traditionally been the mainstay of treatment for fibroids. In patients who wish to maintain fertility, surgical removal of the fibroid can be performed, but can result in intraoperative bleeding, and/or subsequent recurrence of the fibroids.
Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) is a non-surgical, minimally invasive therapy that has emerged as an alternative to surgical procedures. UFE is performed by an interventional radiologist, and involves injecting tiny particles into the arteries that feed the fibroids. This is done through a tiny tube that is inserted into the groin. The procedure can be done in an outpatient setting, or more commonly can be associated with a one night stay in the hospital.

Who is a Candidate for UFE?

Ideal candidates for UFE are women who are in their childbearing years who no longer wish to have children. Patients typically wish to avoid surgery and have the symptoms which are outlined above.

What should I expect on my initial consultation?

At your initial consultation, the doctor will take a thorough medical history and may examine your abdomen to assess the size of your uterus. He or she may recommend a pelvic ultrasound or MRI to assess the size and location of the individual fibroids. Once the physician reviews these imaging studies, he or she will determine if you are a good candidate for UFE.

How should I prepare for the procedure?

Once the doctor has determined that UFE is right for you, a nurse will be calling you to give you instructions for before and after the procedure. You will need to fast after midnight the night before your procedure. You can take your medications with a small sip of water. You will need someone to drive you to the office for your procedure. You will be given medications through an IV to relax and keep you comfortable during the procedure.

What should I expect after the procedure?

You may be able to go home from the office the day of your UFE, but more than likely you will be admitted to the hospital for observation overnight. In the hospital, we can continue to give you pain medications in your IV until you are able to tolerate the discomfort with oral medication. You will be sent home with a prescription for pain medication and anti-nausea medication. Generally anti-inflammatories like Ibuprofen and Aleve work very well for any cramping or discomfort after you are discharged. Most patients can resume work and normal activities within 2-3 days.

What is the success rate of UFE?

Clinical success rates for UFE range from 81% to 94%. You should expect a decrease in your menstrual bleeding, pain and abdominal fullness over the weeks and months after your procedure. Your fibroids will continue to shrink for up to one year following embolization.

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