Uterine Fibroid Embolization
Uterine fibroids are very common non-cancerous (benign) growths that develop in the muscular wall of the uterus. They can range in size from very tiny (a quarter of an inch) to larger than a cantaloupe. Occasionally, they can cause the uterus to grow to the size of a five-month pregnancy. In most cases, there is more than one fibroid in the uterus. While fibroids do not always cause symptoms, their size and location can lead to problems for some women, including pain and heavy bleeding.
Uterine fibroid embolization, or UFE, begins with a tiny incision in the groin area or wrist. This incision provides Dr. Wood with access to arteries that feed the fibroids. Using specialized X-ray equipment, Dr. Wood passes a catheter (small tube) through the incision to the uterine artery, and guides it near the location of the fibroid tumor.
When Dr. Wood reaches the location of the fibroids, embolic material (small spheres) is injected through the catheter and into the blood vessels feeding the fibroid, depriving the fibroids of oxygenated blood. The oxygen deprivation results in the fibroids shrinking. The embolic material remains permanently in the blood vessels at the fibroid site. The catheter is then moved to the other side of the uterus where more embolic material is administered. Once Dr. Wood has completed embolization of the uterine artery on both sides, the catheter is gently removed. The entire UFE treatment typically lasts less than one hour, and is typically performed as an outpatient procedure.
On average, 85-90 percent of women who have had the procedure experience significant or total relief of heavy bleeding, pain and/or bulk-related symptoms.