What is a Uterine Fibroid Embolization?
Your healthcare provider has requested that you undergo a uterine fibroid embolization. Your symptoms or findings indicate that you have fibroids, which represent non-cancerous growths within the wall of the uterus. These can vary in size from small to quite large and frequently cause bleeding and pain. Uterine fibroid embolization involves blocking the blood supply to the fibroids so that they shrink in size.
How Should I Prepare?
You should not eat or drink anything for six hours prior to your procedure. You may take your medications as directed. Speak to your doctor if you need to adjust your insulin dosing. Prior to your procedure, you should make sure all medications and allergies are updated. If you are on a blood thinner you may be requested to stop that medication for a period of time.
How is the Procedure Performed?
The procedure will be performed by an interventional radiologist, who is a physician with specific training in image-guided procedures. The procedure will be performed under fluoroscopy (x-ray). Intravenous medications may be given to make you more comfortable and relaxed. This is called conscious sedation.
Upon arrival, an IV will be placed and a Foley catheter may be inserted into the bladder. Your skin will be cleaned with sterilizing solution and numbing medicine injected. A catheter (small tube) will be placed in the artery, and x-ray dye will be injected to take pictures of the blood vessels in the pelvis.
The catheter will then be moved into the vessels supplying blood flow to the uterus. At this point, tiny beads are injected through the catheter to block the blood flow supplying the fibroids (embolization). More pictures will be taken to ensure that the target vessels leading to the growth have been blocked. Generally, the procedure will take 1-2 hours.
What Should I Expect After the Procedure?
Following the procedure, most patients are admitted to the hospital for monitoring and observation. If a Foley catheter was placed into the bladder, this is typically removed later the same day or on the following day. The majority of patients are able to go home the next day and follow up is arranged in our clinic. Prescriptions for medications for home use will be supplied should you develop further symptoms.