Uterine Fibroid Embolisation (UFE) is a minimally invasive procedure used to treat the symptoms of fibroids.

Uterine Fibroid Embolisation procedure

Instead of surgery, your fibroids can be treated with a specialised vascular technique that blocks the blood flow to the fibroids. This causes them to shrink and may reduce your symptoms.

The procedure is performed by an experienced Interventional Radiologist, in the angiography suite of the hospital.

A liquid dye (contrast medium) is injected to outline the arteries so they are visible with x-ray fluoroscopy using specialised medical imaging equipment.

The specialised x-ray machine is used to take pictures as a catheter is guided from the groin artery to the uterine arteries.

An injection of absorbable, non-toxic material such as polyvinyl alcohol particles and/or placement of platinum coils blocks the blood supply to the fibroid(s).

The procedure usually takes about 1 hour.

Referral

Your gynaecologist can refer you for this procedure if they feel this is suitable for you.

Preparation

The procedure will be performed under sedation administered by an anaesthetist.

You will be instructed to fast for 6 hours prior to the procedure, this means nothing to eat or drink. However, you may take your usual medications with sips of water.

This procedure should not be performed if you are pregnant. If there is a  possibility you may be pregnant, please inform your doctor.

What to expect after the procedure

Immediately after the procedure you will need to remain in bed for 2 hours, to ensure the groin arterial access site has stopped bleeding. After this, you will be encouraged to mobilise as tolerated.

You may need to stay in hospital for 1 – 3 days.

It is normal to have some pelvic pain. Your anaesthetist will make sure you are comfortable with suitable pain relief.

You may have blood stained discharge from your vagina after the procedure for up to one week.

Strenuous exercise and heavy lifting should be avoided for about one week.

Normal menstrual cycles resume after the procedure for the majority of women who undergo UFE. If your period does not return after three months, please contact your doctor.

Risks and side effects

UFE is much less invasive than open or laparoscopic surgery.

However, like any medical procedure, UFE is associated with some risks, including bruising and bleeding at the groin artery site, damage to the groin artery, or you may have an allergic reaction to the contrast material.

Less commonly, blood supply to adjacent tissues such as the ovaries may be inadvertently blocked, and could lead to early menopausal symptoms.

If you develop fever, sweats or increasing pelvic pain, this may indicate an infection. It is important to contact your doctor for medical assistance in this case.

Uterine Fibroid Embolisation (UFE) procedure is performed at certain Dr Jones & Partners clinics in Adelaide, South Australia.

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