Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous growths developing in or around the uterus. While many women with fibroids may not notice any symptoms, others might experience significant discomfort and distress. These symptoms can range from heavy bleeding and pelvic pain to increased pressure, urinary problems, and more.
Among various treatment methods, Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) stands out. UFE is a minimally invasive, safe, and effective alternative to surgery. It can shrink fibroids and alleviate symptoms. The purpose of this piece is to shed light on UFE and its advantages, particularly for women in Dallas grappling with fibroids.
The experienced vein specialists at Texas Vascular Institute in Dallas provide personalized care using advanced technology. Our mission: empower women to understand that UFE is a reliable treatment pathway for fibroids.
What Causes Uterine Fibroids and What are the Types?
The development of uterine fibroids involves various factors. These can include genetics, hormonal changes, and certain growth factors. However, the exact cause remains unclear, and fibroids are neither cancerous nor contagious.
Uterine fibroids can be classified into different types based on their location:
- Submucosal fibroids grow into the uterine cavity.
- Intramural fibroids form within the wall of the uterus.
- Subserosal fibroids extend to the outside of the uterus.
- Pedunculated fibroids are joined to the uterus by a thin stem.
The type of fibroid a woman has can affect her symptoms and available treatment options.
How are Uterine Fibroids Diagnosed and Evaluated?
Diagnosing and evaluating uterine fibroids involve a series of procedures. Here are some common ones:
- Pelvic Exam: This routine examination checks for changes in the shape or size of your uterus.
- Ultrasound: This uses sound waves to create a picture of your uterus, revealing the presence of fibroids.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): This gives a more detailed image of the uterus, helping determine the size and location of the fibroids.
- Hysteroscopy: A small, lighted telescope is inserted into the uterus to examine the inside.
Each method has its strengths and limitations, helping in different ways to ascertain the size, number, location, and blood supply of the fibroids. A comprehensive diagnosis and evaluation are key in selecting the most suitable treatment option for each patient.
What is Uterine Fibroid Embolization?
Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) is a non-surgical procedure that specifically targets the blood supply to fibroids. By blocking this supply, fibroids begin to shrink and eventually die off.
The procedure typically follows these steps:
- A small incision is made in the groin area.
- A catheter is inserted into an artery through the incision.
- Tiny particles are injected into the blood vessels feeding the fibroids, thereby cutting off their blood supply.
UFE generally lasts less than an hour. Options for anesthesia and sedation include local anesthesia with conscious sedation or general anesthesia. Following the procedure, patients often spend a few hours to a day in the clinic or hospital for recovery, followed by a few days to a week of rest at home.
What are the Benefits of UFE?
UFE provides several key benefits compared to surgical treatments:
- It preserves the uterus and its function.
- It treats all fibroids at once, regardless of size, number, or location.
- It has a high success rate and low recurrence rate.
- There is minimal blood loss and scarring.
- It involves fewer risks and complications.
- It allows for a shorter hospital stay and a quicker return to normal activities.
- Most insurance plans cover it.
Several studies and statistics reveal the following:
- 90% of women report improved or resolved symptoms post-UFE.
- UFE reduces menstrual blood loss for a significant proportion of patients.
- UFE has a lower complication rate than hysterectomy or myomectomy.
Who is a Good Candidate for UFE?
Ideal candidates for UFE are typically those:
- With symptomatic fibroids that disrupt daily life or cause anemia.
- Who wish to avoid surgery or preserve fertility.
- Not planning to get pregnant in the near future or have completed childbearing.
- Without any contraindications for UFE, like active infection, pregnancy, cancer, or allergy to contrast dye.
It’s essential for all patients to be evaluated by an interventional radiologist prior to UFE.
An MRI may be necessary to assess the fibroids and plan the procedure.
How to Prepare for UFE?
Preparing for UFE involves several important steps:
- Stop taking certain medications or supplements that may interfere with blood clotting or healing, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, vitamin E, and others.
- Arrange for someone to drive you home post-procedure and stay with you the first night.
- Pack a bag with comfortable clothes, personal items, and any necessary medications.
- Follow your doctor’s instructions regarding fasting, hydration, and bowel preparation before the procedure.
What to Expect After UFE?
Following UFE, you can anticipate:
- Mild pain, cramping, nausea, fever, or vaginal discharge, can be managed with medication and home remedies.
- Restrictions on physical activity, sexual intercourse, bathing, and driving for a short period.
- Follow-up visits or calls with your doctor to monitor recovery and results.
- Gradual improvement in symptoms over several weeks or months as fibroids shrink.
While rare, potential side effects or complications may include:
- Non-target embolization: unintentional blockage of other blood vessels, which can cause damage to other organs or tissues.
- Transient amenorrhea: temporary halt of the menstrual cycle due to hormonal changes caused by UFE.
- Vaginal discharge or infection: the passage of some fibroid tissue through the vagina or inflammation/infection in the pelvic area.
- Premature menopause: cessation of ovarian function due to reduced blood flow caused by UFE.
- Fibroid recurrence: growth of new fibroids or regrowth of existing fibroids post-UFE.
These side effects or complications can be prevented or treated with proper care and regular follow-ups.
UFE is a minimally invasive treatment that offers significant relief from fibroids. It boasts numerous benefits over surgery and other treatments and is suitable for most women with fibroids.
At Texas Vascular Institute in Dallas, you can trust our experienced vein specialists to provide this safe and effective procedure.
Take the Next Step
If you are interested in learning more about UFE or scheduling a consultation with our fibroid specialists, we encourage you to contact us at Texas Vascular Institute.
You can reach us at 972-798-4641 or visit our website. Contact us today!
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809 West Harwood Rd, Suite 101,
Hurst, TX 76054
For Appointments: 972-798-4710
General Inquiries: 972-646-8346