What is Uterine Fibroid Embolization?

Hear from Dr. Fox and Dr. Hardee about uterine fibroids and who the perfect candidate is for UFE.


So basically a patient’s treatment options now are surgical where they have a hysterectomy where patients are looking at open surgery where they’re in the hospital – general anesthesia, surgical incision, 4 to 6 week recovery, miss a lot of work, and have a lot of pain for a long period of time after the procedure.

The procedure we do, uterine artery embolization (or uterine fibroid embolization, the same procedure) is basically a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure where a small catheter injects particles into the arteries supplying the uterus. The fibroids actually get smaller and they shrink and die actually. And the patient’s symptoms go away rather quickly. The procedure starts at 8am, and patients are home by 2pm in the same day and able to resume work typically within 3 to 5 days after our procedure. A lot shorter recovery obviously. They don’t have to have surgery where parts of the body are removed and they have equal symptom relief to open surgical procedures that require hospitalization and a long recovery.

The perfect patient is a female obviously, typically between the ages of 35 and 45. A lady who has completed her childbearing and no longer desires to have any more children, and has uterine fibroids that are symptomatic. And the symptoms are in 2 broad categories; either heavy menstrual bleeding or bulk related symptoms concerning the size of the fibroid – pelvic pain, pressure, urinary frequency, constipation, leg symptoms. Those are really the ideal patients.

Dr. Eric Hardee

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 5 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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