Understanding Uterine Fibroid Embolization

Uterine fibroids are a common cause of many issues for women, including heavy menstrual periods and bladder or bowel cramps. Many women just live with this condition, not aware that a relatively simple procedure could be performed to relieve the pain.

A procedure called uterine fibroid embolization is performed by a radiologist. In this procedure, the blood supply to your fibroids is cut off. However, not everyone is a good candidate for this procedure. Dr. Lev Pukin of Vein and Vascular Solutions offers this guide into what uterine fibroid embolization is, and how it may be able to help you.

What are fibroids?

Fibroids are growths inside your uterus or womb. These growths are almost always noncancerous and aren’t associated with an increased risk of uterine cancer. They can range in size from so small they can’t be seen with the naked eye to so large that they cause the uterus to expand in size.

Even though they’re not cancerous, that doesn’t mean fibroids don’t cause any symptoms. Symptoms of uterine fibroids include heavier menstrual periods, pelvic pain, and cramps that can be debilitating. Some women with fibroids have no symptoms at all, although this is the exception rather than the rule.

What is uterine fibroid embolization?

Fibroids depend on a blood supply to continue their growth. Uterine fibroid embolization cuts off the blood supply to uterine fibroids, causing them to shrink and cause less pain. This means that you’ll see a dramatic reduction in pain and heavy bleeding.

Before scheduling the procedure, you’ll first have a pelvic ultrasound to determine that the cause of your fibroids is related to your veins. If uterine fibroid embolization is recommended, it will need to be performed by a radiologist. This is because a specialist with specific training in managing the veins and blood vessels is required to make sure that only the appropriate blood vessels are targeted.

What to expect from the procedure

Unlike many other gynecological procedures, a uterine fibroid embolization is relatively quick, with a comparatively fast recovery time. The entire procedure takes about 90 minutes, though sometimes you may have to stay in the hospital overnight. You will have local anesthesia, so you’re not aware of any pain.

During the procedure, the doctor will insert a thin tube called a catheter into your wrist. He’ll guide this tube through to your uterine arteries, where he’ll insert a special medicine with gel particles to cut off the blood supply to your fibroids. You may feel some increased cramping for 24 hours after the procedure, but after that, your pain should be significantly less than before.

What else you need to know

Uterine fibroid embolization is a method that’s a good alternative to more major surgeries. However, you do need to be finished with your childbearing years, as it’s not recommended to become pregnant again after having it done.

Some women may need to have the procedure done again after a few years. Some other women may still go on to have a hysterectomy at a later date. The procedure is most effective in fibroids that are not excessively large. Because it’s possible that the procedure can cause early menopause, many women prefer to wait until the premenopausal years to have it done.

Most women will experience relief from pelvic pain and heavy bleeding after the procedure. In most cases, you can return back to work in about a week.

If you would like to learn more about this procedure, including whether or not you’re a good candidate for it, make an appointment for a consultation today. Call Dr. Lev Pukin of Vein and Vascular Solutions or request an appointment online

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