Uterine Fibroid Treatment at Houston Fibroids
At Houston Fibroids, we recognize the importance of providing a comprehensive approach to reproductive care. From how we handle your diagnosis to providing the best treatment options available for your unique health needs, we are here to help you every step of the way, especially when it comes to uterine fibroids.
If you are experiencing symptoms consistent with uterine fibroids, or have recently been diagnosed with them, uterine fibroid treatment such as UFE may be the best procedure option for you. Stop the symptoms for good and feel better sooner with us.
What are uterine fibroids?
Uterine fibroids are noncancerous tumors that can appear outside or inside the uterus. Also referred to as leiomyomas, they range in size from nearly undetectable to large masses that can affect the shape and size of the uterus.
Women may have one or more fibroids throughout their uterus. Although the exact cause of fibroids is unknown, women at increased risk include those with obesity, a family history of fibroids, or those who experienced puberty earlier than others.
The onset of symptoms often brings on the first sign that you may have fibroids.
What are the symptoms of uterine fibroids?
We recommend treatment for uterine fibroids if you experience moderate to severe symptoms, including:
- Prolonged periods
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Spotting between periods
- Pain or pressure in the abdomen, lower back, pelvis, or legs
- Frequent urination or trouble emptying your bladder
What is UFE?
UFE, or uterine fibroid embolization, is a minimally-invasive alternative to hysterectomy or myomectomy to treat and shrink uterine fibroids.
UFE is a very effective procedure with a success rate of about 85%. Most women experience a dramatic improvement in their symptoms and a decrease in the size of their uterine fibroids, with most completely disappearing.
This advanced treatment can be performed in two ways, using the groin or wrist arteries.
What is a Trans-radial UFE?
In some cases, Dr. Hardee and Dr. Fox offer a unique approach to the UFE procedure using trans-radial access. This state-of-the-art technique allows the procedure to be performed through the radial artery in the left wrist.
Trans-radial access is an advanced treatment option with fewer complications and less pain than the more commonly performed UFE treatment option that utilizes the femoral artery in the groin.
Trans-radial access allows patients to sit upright or walk immediately following their UFE treatment and has been proven to increase patient comfort and lead to faster recovery.
Once we’ve helped you determine if UFE is the right fibroid treatment option for you, here are some of the things you’ll need to know before, during, and after treatment.
What should I prepare for before uterine fibroid treatment?
Although UFE treatment is different for everyone, it is vital to prepare for treatment utilizing specific steps before treatment.
Your Interventional Radiologist (IR) will explain all pre-procedure tests prescribed in detail before beginning treatment.
During your consult, you should let your doctor know if you are allergic to any medications, shellfish, iodine, contrast agents, or gelatin to minimize the risk of a reaction as a result of the fibroid treatment procedure.
You and your doctor also should decide what type of sedation will work best for you. Most doctors use conscious sedation, which means you will be awake during the procedure, but you will feel groggy.
Other ways to successfully prepare for your procedure include:
- No solid foods or beverages for up to 6 hours before your treatment.
- Water may be consumed up to 2 hours before your procedure.
- Take necessary time off of work, school, or other daily tasks to ensure you have ample time to prepare for and rest after treatment.
- Invite a friend or family member to drive you to and from treatment.
- Speak with your IR directly about any medications you take before surgery to ensure they are safe to take leading up to treatment. Medications, such as blood thinners may be temporarily suspended until after surgery to reduce the risk of blood loss or other complications.
- Prepare a hospital bag equipped with your essentials for at least a one-night stay.
What should I expect on treatment day?
UFE is performed as an outpatient fibroid treatment procedure in a hospital and will typically require an overnight stay in the hospital. The entire fibroid treatment typically lasts less than one hour.
After you arrive at the hospital, you will be prepped for the procedure by the radiology staff. This includes initiating the sedation and other medication discussed during your consultation. Other medications to help manage post-procedure effects may also be administered at this time.
UFE treatment begins with a tiny incision in the femoral or radial artery, which provides the IR access to the femoral artery in the upper thigh or radial artery in the wrist.
Using specialized X-ray equipment, the IR passes a catheter into the artery to reach the uterine artery and guides it near the location of the fibroid tumor. When the IR has reached the location of the fibroids, embolic materials are injected through the catheter into the blood flow leading to uterine fibroid tumors.
The embolic material blocks off the vessels around the fibroid, depriving it of blood and oxygen., This deprivation results in the fibroids dying over time which will cause significant shrinking. The embolic material remains permanently in the blood vessels at the fibroid site.
The catheter is then moved to the other side of the uterus, usually using the same incision. Once the IR has completed embolization of the uterine artery on both sides, the catheter is removed, and the incision is gently closed using a vascular closure device.
What can I expect after having a UFE procedure?
Most women experience some degree of abdominal pain or cramping (similar to menstrual cramps) shortly after this treatment for uterine fibroids. Generally, patients receive medications for pain management.
Some patients may experience “post-embolization syndrome” following UFE, which is described as having flu-like symptoms, such as:
- Low-grade fever
- Abdominal discomfort
- Mild nausea
- Decreased energy
At the time of discharge, your doctor will provide you with pertinent information on post-UFE care.
Most women can return to light activity within a few days of UFE treatment and are usually back to work and regular activity within 11 days.
In most cases, post-UFE follow-up appointments are performed one-week post-procedure and three months post-procedure.
If you, or a loved one, is a candidate for UFE, understanding the treatment involved is essential in improving your overall understanding and experience. To learn more about UFE, or to schedule an appointment today, call us at 713-575-3686 or request an appointment online. We can’t wait to help you feel better sooner with UFE.