Uterine Fibroid Embolization

2/15/2016 news

Uterine Fibroid Embolization

Miami Vascular Specialists (MVS) interventional radiologists have been performing Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) procedures since the mid 1990s. The MVS Interventional Radiologists were among the first in the USA to perform this procedure and they participated in a number of the early trials that led to FDA approval of this procedure. Results of these trials showed similar efficacy with less serious complications compared to hysterectomy and myomectomy. Additionally, recovery time, pain were dramatically lower. 

Participation in early trials and over a decade of experience in pioneering this procedure gives our interventional radiologists extensive expertise in uterine fibroid embolization. To date we have successfully treated over 1000 women. MVS combines experience and knowledge with excellent patient care and comprehensive management before during and after undergoing UFE. Our goal is to provide every patient with the best experience and outcome possible.

Uterine fibroids are the leading indication for hysterectomy in premenopausal women and are considered are a major public health issue. Approximately 600,000 hysterectomies are performed each year in the United States, and about a third are performed due to problems related to uterine fibroids.

Uterine leiomyomas, a.k.a., uterine fibroids, can cause a variety of symptoms. Ten to 20% of uterine fibroids can lead to serious problems such as irregular and prolonged menstrual bleeding, pelvic pain or pressure, lower back pain, constipation, frequent or difficult urination or painful intercourse. Up to 40% of women 20 years and older will develop uterine fibroid tumors before reaching menopause. The risk is even higher among African-American women. 50% of African-American women will develop fibroids during their lifetimes. Based on long- and short-term outcomes, UFE, a non surgical minimally invasive treatment, is a safe and effective option for many women. Click here to print our patient brochure.

Advanced Diagnosis and Treatment of Uterine Fibroids

Uterine fibroids are frequently diagnosed using ultrasound by the patient's own gynecologist. Though adequate for initial identification of fibroid tumors, ultrasound lacks the specificity to diagnose some other underlying diseases and the full extent of the fibroids. MRI is used by interventional radiologists to provide detailed diagnosis and identify factors that show whether or not UFE will provide the greatest benefit for the patient.

MVS interventional radiologists first determine if the uterine fibroids should be embolized and if there are alternate causes for the symptoms. They carefully evaluate each patient to determine if there is additional pathology that indicates performing UFE would not provide optimal results. Our radiologists work closely with our referring physicians to ensure that the patient is taken care of in the most beneficial way.

Informed consent for patients considering treatment of uterine fibroids should include discussion of all appropriate treatment options. Patients considering surgical treatment of fibroids should also be offered a second opinion from an interventional radiologist with the expertise to determine if the patient will be a good candidate for UFE.

Answers to Questions your patients may ask from the Society of Interventional Radiology (SIR)

  • Embolization of the uterine arteries is not new. It has been used successfully by interventional radiologists for more than 20 years to treat heavy bleeding after childbirth. Embolization has been used to treat tumors since 1966. Embolization to treat uterine fibroids has been performed since 1995 and the embolic particles are approved by the FDA specifically to treat uterine fibroid tumors, based on comparative trials showing similar efficacy with less serious complications compared to hysterectomy and myomectomy (the surgical removal of fibroids).
  • Embolization of fibroids was first used as an adjunct to help decrease blood loss during myomectomy. To the surprise of the initial users of this method, many patients had spontaneous resolution of their symptoms after only the embolization and no longer needed the surgery. 
  • UFE is covered by most major insurance companies and is widely available across the country.
  • Most women with symptomatic fibroids are candidates for UFE and should obtain a consult with an interventional radiologist to determine whether UFE is a treatment option for them. An ultrasound or MRI diagnostic test will help the interventional radiologist to determine if the woman is a candidate for this treatment.
  • Many women wonder about the safety of leaving particles in the body. The embolic particles most commonly used in UFE have been available with FDA approval for use in people for more than 20 years. During that time, they have been used in thousands of patients without long-term complications.