Fibroids are noncancerous (benign) growths that develop in the muscular wall of the uterus. While fibroids do not always cause symptoms, their size and location can lead to problems for some women.
The interventional radiologists at the University of Maryland are extremely experienced in taking care of women with symptomatic fibroids using uterine fibroid embolization (UFE). Our physicians have over 10 years of experience treating women with uterine fibroids with UFE.
During your initial consultation, we will discuss your medical history, symptoms, and the risks and benefits of UFE for your individual case.
Facts About Fibroids
The number of women who have fibroids increases with age until menopause. Twenty to 40 percent of women ages 35 and older have uterine fibroids of a significant size. African-American women are at a higher risk: as many as 50 percent have fibroids of a significant size. It is not known why, although genetic variability is thought to be a factor.
Most fibroids don't cause symptoms. However, depending on size, locations, and number of fibroids, they may cause:
- Heavy, prolonged menstrual periods, which an lead to anemia
- Pelvic pain and pressure
- Pain in the back and legs
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Bladder pressure leading to a frequent urge to urinate
- Pressure on the bowel, leading to constipation and bloating
- Abnormally enlarged abdomen
There are medical, surgical and minimally invasive options to treat uterine fibroids. Medical options may include pain medications such as ibuprofen (Motrin), birth control pills and hormone treatments. Surgical options may include myomectomy (removal of the fibroid tumor) or hysterectomy (removal of the uterus and possibly ovaries). The minimally-invasive option is called uterine fibroid embolization (UFE), a non-surgical way to shrink fibroids.
Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE)
At the University of Maryland, UFE is performed by highly-experienced interventional radiologists. The procedure involves passing a spaghetti- sized tube (a catheter) through a tiny nick in the skin near the groin, into the arteries that feed blood to the uterus (uterine arteries). Microscopic FDA-approved particles are injected into these arteries to selectively block the blood flow to the fibroids, causing them to gradually shrink over time. This is done using moderate sedation, though most women choose to watch the procedure on the monitor as it is performed.
On average, 90 percent of women who had this procedure experience significant or total relief of heavy bleeding and other symptoms. The procedure is effective for multiple fibroids, and recurrence of treated fibroids is rare.
These results have been validated in large-scale studies of thousands of women. During your initial consultation with the interventional radiologist at the University of Maryland, these data will be discussed in detail with you.
UFE may require a one night hospital stay. Side-effects and complications are few. Studies have shown that risks and complications are significantly lower than surgery. Many women resume light activities in a few days, and a majority of women return to normal activities within seven to 10 days.
Experience is important. The most experienced physicians performing UFE will provide you the best pre and post UFE care, as well as the most durable results.