At the recent 2019 convention for the Society of Interventional Radiologists, we got some exciting news: UFE is just as effective a treatment for fibroids as myomectomy surgery!
Uterine fibroids are muscular tumors that develop in the wall of the uterus; they’re typically non-cancerous, and may sometimes go unnoticed by the women in whom they have developed. Symptomatic women may experience heavy menstrual bleeding, frequent urination and pain during sex, among other complications. Fibroids can also make it more difficult for women to become or remain pregnant.
Many women are told that a hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus) is the answer to troubling fibroid symptoms. But women who don’t want to have a hysterectomy have to choose between other treatment options, including Uterine Fibroid Embolization and Myomectomy. UFE involves threading a thin tube into the blood vessel that supplies a fibroid tumor. Then, small plastic or gel particles are injected into the blood vessel to block it permanently, which causes the fibroid to shrink over time. Myomectomy, in contrast, involves surgical removal of a fibroid tumor; it is considered a more invasive treatment plan but may be a better option for women who want to become pregnant after fibroids.
New Study on Fibroid Treatment Options
In this new study, researchers looked at data from 950 women, half of whom had UFE and half who had a myomectomy to treat fibroids. The women were followed for an average of seven years after their procedures.
After reviewing the data, the findings were pretty clear: the procedures appeared to be similarly effective at treating fibroids. And, among the women who had a myomectomy, there were higher rates of post-surgical complications, including the need for a blood transfusion (2.9 percent from the myomectomy group versus 1.1 for those who had UFE).
Study author Dr. Jemianne Bautista-Jia said, “The two treatments were comparably effective [and] UFE resulted in more favorable outcomes.” Additionally, the radiology resident at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center noted, that there was less pain and shorter recovery times for the women who had UFE. Those women also reported a greater improvement in relief from heavy bleeding.
In spite of all these benefits, she noted that, “patients are often not fully informed of their treatment options.” She hopes these study findings will help raise UFE awareness. She encourages all women with fibroids to discuss UFE with their doctors before deciding on a course of treatment.