Embolization is a Minimally Invasive Option for Treating Fibroids
Embolization is one minimally invasive option for treating fibroids, and MetroHealth's interventional radiologists are experienced with the procedure.
When appropriate for the individual patient, “this is a more cost effective, less disabling procedure than a traditional, fully invasive hysterectomy,’’ said J. Scott Williams, MD, PhD, an interventional radiologist at MetroHealth.
“And it’s easily the best option for people with other comorbidities, such as cardiopulmonary issues or someone who can’t tolerate a general anesthesia.’’
During uterine fibroid embolization (UFE), short-acting opiates are used to make patients comfortable. A thin tube is threaded into the blood vessels that supply blood to the uterus and tiny plastic or gel particles are injected into the blood vessels. The particles block the blood supply to the fibroid, causing it to shrink.
Some patients go home the day of the procedure, others might stay overnight. Generally patients require advanced oral pain medication for three to five days, and then will use over-the-counter pain relievers as needed, said Dr. Williams.
Statistics cited by the Society of Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiology show that 78 to 94 percent of women who have this procedure experience significant or total relief of heavy bleeding, pain and other symptoms.
Studies also show that, on average, tumors shrink by 40 percent to 50 percent after six months. UFE candidates are generally anyone who is symptomatic from fibroids, said Dr. Williams.
Doctors consider many factors when determining which fibroid treatment is right for individuals, including:
- If the patient might want to get pregnant in the future
- Size of the fibroids
- Location of the fibroids
- Patient’s age
MetroHealth interventional radiologists work quickly with referring physicians to screen candidates and this includes outpatient clinic assessment, contrast enhanced MRI and the procedure can happen within two to three weeks.
MetroHealth offers other options for fibroid treatment, including:
- Hysteroscopic removal or hysteroscopic endometrial ablation.
- Minimally invasive hysterectomy
Uterine embolization is used with caution in those patients who may wish to become pregnant at a later time, said William Todia, MD, MBA, Vice Chairperson of Clinical Affairs, Obstetrics/Gynecology.
This is because some studies show that uterine artery embolization may cause compromise in blood flow to the lining of the uterus and cause the placenta to be abnormal in pregnancies.
Yet, a study released in 2010 at the Society of Interventional Radiology’s 35th Annual Scientific Meeting showed that UFE has a comparable fertility rate to myomectomy for women who want to conceive.
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