As you’re considering how to treat your uterine fibroids, you obviously want to know the details of all the different options: how to prepare, what to expect during the procedure, and how long the recovery will take.
With uterine fibroid embolization (UFE), it’s no different. You know the pros and cons, but you want to know more. Here are some questions you can ask your doctor.
1. How often is the procedure successful?
The particles used in UFE are inserted into the uterine artery, which supplies 99% of blood flow to the fibroids. When this blood supply is blocked, all of the fibroids are treated, meaning that the procedure will be successful.
Occasionally, the fibroid is getting enough blood from another source to stay alive. In a vast majority of cases, this will be identified and treated at the same time as the uterine artery, but if it is not identified, another procedure may be required.
The usual success rate is about 95-98% for good candidates of the procedure.
2. Are your patients happy with UFE?
The statistics show that around 90% of patients are satisfied at follow-up. Dr, Dan Levin, VIVA EVE interventional radiologist puts it this way:
“Yes, typically patients are very happy with the procedure because of the short time it takes for the procedure itself, the fast recovery time and how quickly they see results from the procedure.”
3. How safe is the UFE Procedure?
With UFE, complications are very rare. As with any surgical procedure, infection is possible, but it happens with very few patients.
Other than infection, there is the risk of ovarian failure or premature menopause, which affect less than 2% of patients. This most ftrequently happens with the patients that were approaching menopause anyway.
4. How long does the UFE procedure and recovery take?
The entire UFE treatment procedure typically lasts less than one hour. The post-procedure care that you receive will be administered by skilled nurses and your Interventional Radiologist. You will need to rest in bed for 4-5 hours after the procedure, but you will be able to go home the same day. After the procedure, you may experience some discomfort, which is very similar to menstrual cramps. You and your doctor will determine what medications may be needed to keep you comfortable (in most cases over-the-counter pain medication is enough). Most women are able to return to light activity within a few days of the uterine fibroid embolization treatment and are usually back to work and normal activity on average, within a week.
5. Will my fibroids or symptoms come back?
Uterine fibroid embolization is a procedure used to block the blood flow to the fibroids, causing them to shrink. Therefore, it is unlikely that the fibroids will come back. There are years of data available on patients who were followed up after UFE. It is rare for completely treated fibroids to re-grow. However, since UFE preserves the uterus, your body may develop new fibroids.