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Uterine Fibroid Embolization

What are fibroids?

Uterine fibroids, or leiomyomata of the uterus, are benign tumors that grow from the muscular layer of the uterus. They are quite common, affecting 40% of women between the ages of 35 and 55. It is important to note that fibroids are not cancerous and do not invade the body like malignant tumors; however, they can cause symptoms. 


What are symptoms of uterine fibroids?

Symptoms depend on the size, number, and location of the fibroids, which can vary between women. Common symptoms include menorrhagia (heavy menstrual bleeding), fatigue (due to anemia in the setting of heavy menstrual bleeding), bulk related symptoms (frequent urination, changes in bowel movements, abdominal girth), infertility, and pelvic pain. 


How are fibroids treated?

Traditionally, fibroids have been treated with surgery, such as hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) or in some cases myomectomy. Other more conservative treatments include hormonal medications to prematurely induce a menopause-like state or waiting until menopause. A newer minimally invasive treatment is uterine artery embolization (UAE), also known as uterine fibroid embolization (UFE). 


What is uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) procedure?

Uterine fibroid embolization is a minimally invasive procedure for treatment of symptomatic fibroids. It is an alternative to surgery and requires no large incisions or stitches.The treatment works by blocking off the blood supply to the fibroids. This is accomplished by an interventional radiologist first placing a small hollow tube called a catheter into an artery, navigating through the body to the arteries supplying the fibroids, and administering a solution of microscopic particles that lodge themselves in the small blood vessels, effectively cutting off the blood flow to the fibroids. UFE is a safe procedure that has been shown to substantially shrink fibroids and effectively treat symptoms while avoiding an invasive surgery and the associated prolonged recovery time.  


Why Great Lakes Medical Imaging?

Dr. Jon and Dr. Chris are interventional radiologists who have undergone subspecialty level training to perform minimally invasive image guided procedures, such as UFE. Additionally, Dr. Jon and Dr. Chris are trained in a novel technique called transradial UFE (TRUFE), which means the access point into the arterial system can be at the wrist. While most interventional radiologists are performing this procedure by accessing the artery in the groin, our doctors can perform the entire procedure from the wrist, which has lower bleeding related complication rates, faster mobilization post procedure, and overall improved patient comfort and satisfaction. Additionally, our doctors are able to perform the procedure from the comforts of our outpatient facility, avoiding the need to visit a hospital. 


Is UFE right for me?

If you have symptomatic fibroids and would prefer a minimally invasive procedure over conventional surgery or hormonal medication, UFE may be right for you. Book a consultation with Dr. Jon or Dr. Chris today by calling (716) 836-4646.