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What is Uterine Fibroid Embolization?

Posted on February 22, 2023

What is uterine fibroid embolization and who is a good candidate for this procedure? Hear from our Houston Fibroi experts about what to expect from this minimally invasive treatment option.

What are Uterine Fibroids?

Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous growths that develop in or on your uterus. They form from the muscular tissue of the uterus. And they can cause painful, disruptive symptoms such as long and heavy periods, infertility and more.

Fibroid Treatment Options

After a fibroids diagnosis, you have many treatment options. Some include surgery, either a myomectomy (surgical removal of the fibroid) or hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus). If you have a hysterectomy, you will have to undergo open surgery, a stay in the hospital - general anesthesia, surgical incision, and a 4 to 6-week recovery period. You will miss a lot of work, and have a lot of pain for a long period of time after the procedure.

Alternatively, if you have a myomectomy, you will still need anesthesia, a hospital stay and an extended recovery period. So, even if you have a laparoscopic procedure, this treatment option involves pain and downtime. And that's why so many women are seeking a different, less invasive option.

What is Uterine Fibroid Embolization? The Minimally Invasive Treatment Option

Here in our Houston area clinics, we perform Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE, also called uterine artery embolization.) This is basically a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure where a small catheter injects particles into the arteries supplying the uterus.

Following your procedure, your fibroids actually get smaller, then die. And your symptoms go away rather quickly. Best of all? Your recovery and down time is just as quick. Let's say the procedure starts at 8am? Well, our patients are home by 2pm on the same day. And they're able to resume work typically within 3 to 5 days after our procedure. Best of all, they don't have to have surgery where parts of the body are removed. And they have equal symptom relief compared to open surgical procedures that require hospitalization and a long recovery.

What is Uterine Fibroid Embolization? Understanding Who Can Have UFE

The perfect patient is a female obviously, typically between the ages of 35 and 45. We typically recommend this procedure to women who have completed their childbearing and no longer want more children. (Although newer research reveals that you can have children after UFE.)

Also, you should choose UFE if you have uterine fibroids that are symptomatic. And the symptoms are in 2 broad categories: you should either be dealing with heavy menstrual bleeding or bulk-related symptoms concerning the size of the fibroid. (These include pelvic pain, pressure, urinary frequency, constipation and/or leg symptoms.) Those are really the ideal patients.

Not sure if UFE is the right treatment for your needs? Reach out and request a consultation with our team of experts. We are happy to answer all your questions, including "What is Uterine Fibroid Embolization?" and "is this treatment right for me?"

What is Uterine Fibroid Embolization? Final Thoughts


The great thing about uterine fibroid embolization is it's a new procedure that's been around for about 20 years but it's really been perfected in the last several years. And for a long time women that had uterine fibroids, their only options were either to have a hysterectomy or they could have a less invasive surgery, an open surgery, to remove part of the fibroids. But they're still open surgical cases that still require lengthy recovery time.

Now we're able to do procedures that are much less invasive, that we can send the patient home the same day and treat their fibroids as an outpatient. What we do is we put a catheter, a small plastic tube, either through the artery in the wrist or through their groin, and put a small catheter down into the arteries that supply the uterus. We're able to inject small beads. They go and block the blood supply to the tumors and actually shrink the tumors but preserve the uterus.

- Dr. William Fox

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