Avoid a hysterectomy or myomectomy.
There is a minimally invasive alternative.
Uterine Artery Embolization (UAE) or Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) is a proven treatment option for symptomatic fibroids and offer the following benefits:
Reduces heavy periods
Reduces bulk of fibroids
Fertility and childbearing ability not necessarily compromised
No post-hysterectomy discomfort or recovery phase
What are fibroids?
Uterine fibroids are very common non-cancerous (benign) growths of the muscular wall of the uterus. They vary in size from tiny to the size of a cantaloupe. Sometimes, they can cause the uterus to expand to the size of a five-month pregnancy. In most cases, there is more than one fibroid in the uterus. Not all fibroids cause symptoms, although their size and location can lead to problems including heavy bleeding (menorrhagia) and pain.
Uterine fibroids are sometimes referred to as "fibroids" or by several other names, including leiomyomata, myomata and fibromyomata.
What symptoms can they cause?
Depending on size, location and number of fibroids, they may cause:
Heavy, prolonged menstrual periods , sometimes with large clots. This can lead to anemia.
Pelvic pain and pressure
Pain in the back and legs
Pain during sexual intercourse
Bladder pressure leading to a frequent urge to urinate
Pressure on the bowel, leading to constipation and bloating
Abnormally enlarged abdomen
How common are fibroids?
About 10% of women have fibroids but only 10-20% of women who have fibroids (symptomatic fibroids) require treatment. 80-90% of women who have UAE for the treatment of symptomatic fibroids may need no further treatment.
Uterine Artery Embolization
The Uterine Artery Embolization (UAE) procedure is minimally invasive and performed while the patient is still conscious, but sedated. It does not require general anaesthesia. A tiny nick (2 mm) is made in the skin in the groin and a catheter is inserted into the femoral artery. Using real-time x-ray imaging, Dr Robertson guides the catheter through the artery to the Fibroid(s) and then releases tiny particles, (the size of flecks of sand), into the arteries that supply blood to the fibroid. This blocks the blood flow to the fibroid and causes it to die, scar and shrink.
The overall procedure takes about an hour.
After the Fibroid embolization treatment you will be transferred to the recovery area and kept comfortable and pain free for the rest of the day. After an overnight hospital stay you should be able to return home. Oral analgesics/anti-inflammatories (pain killers) are prescribed for the next few days. Many women resume normal activities in a few days.
If heavy bleeding (menorrhagia) has been the reason for UAE, your symptoms should be relieved by the next period. The fibroid mass shrinks over about twelve months thus relieving you of the symptoms of pain and/or bulk-related symptoms.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
UTERINE ARTERY EMBOLIZATION (UAE)
Does the procedure hurt?
No, Local anaesthesia and sedation only
No, General anaesthesia
How long do I stay in hospital?
3 or 4 days
Is there pain after the procedure?
Often, but only for the first day or two and well managed with analgesia
Yes, but becomes progressively less over the first 7-10 days. Treated with analgesia
Will it cause sexual dysfunction (vaginal dryness, difficulty in orgasm) ?
Not uncommon but may be temporary
Is there a risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) and Pelvic Haematoma?
Yes - depending on surgical technique and period of hospitalisation
The Next Steps
Download a letter you may wish to read and have on hand when you consult your Family Practitioner