Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE)

Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) is a minimally-invasive alternative to hysterectomy or myomectomy. The procedure blocks the blood supply to fibroids, causing them to shrink. It is clinically proven to reduce the major symptoms of fibroids, inlcuding pain, excessive and prolonged bleeding and frequent urination. UFE is a very effective procedure with an approximate success rate of 85%.

Performed instead of major surgery, this procedure requires minimal or no hospital stay and a shorter recovery. Most individuals who undergo the procedure have a dramatic improvement in their symptoms and a decrease in size of their uterine fibroids. If menstruation has been heavy, it will usually return to a more normal flow after UFE. Following embolization, fibroids starve and shrink in a manner not unlike the natural way fibroids shrink after menopause.

When is the procedure recommended?

The American college of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) recognizes UFE as a safe and effective treatment for fibroids. UFE is generally recommended to any individual who is symptomatic from her fibroids and who wishes to avoid surgery such as a hysterectomy.  

Unlike some fibroid treatments, UFE targets all fibroids in the uterus, and is effective for individuals with only a few fibroids as well as those who have many fibroids, regardless of fibroid size. Uterine embolization can also be used to treat a less common cause of heavy and painful cycles called adenomyosis. 

How is the procedure performed?

During UFE, a thin tube called a catheter is inserted through a blood vessel in the leg or wrist and guided by fluoroscopic (X-ray) images to the blood vessels that feed the fibroids of the uterus. Tiny particles are injected to stop blood flow to the fibroids. The muscular wall of the uterus tolerates this well with no ill effects, but the fibroid deprived of its blood supply dies. Over time it will shrink as much as 70% allowing for improvement or complete resolution of symptoms. The procedure takes about an hour to perform. Most patients will stay in the hospital overnight as some post-embolization pain is expected.

What are the benefits?

  • Provides quick relief from symptoms like pelvic pain and pressure, heavy menstrual bleeding, and urinary dysfunction
  • Quick recovery, with a return to normal activities within a week or two
  • Does not require removal of the uterus or ovaries, and may preserve fertility
  • May eliminate hormone therapy 
  • Requires only a small incision with minimal blood loss
  • No general anesthesia required


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