Fibroids and Uterine Artery Embolization
One in five women between the ages of 18 and 50 will develop
fibroids. These are noncancerous tumors of the womb, but have been nicknamed
"fireballs" by women with symptoms ranging from heavy bleeding to severe pain
requiring a hysterectomy. In fact, fibroids are the reason given for nearly
200,000 hysterectomies per year in the United States alone, creating a strong
demand for less invasive therapies.
There are a number of options to treat fibroids before hysterectomy:
there are hormonal medical therapies; conservative surgery called "myomectomy"
which removes the fibroids, but leaves the uterus; and a minimally invasive
procedure called "Uterine Artery Embolization" or UAE.
UAE is performed in a hospital by an interventional radiologist
under light anesthesia. In this procedure, the uterine arteries are entered
with a thin catheter inserted through veins in the leg. Tiny particles like
grains of sand are injected through the catheter to cut off the blood flow to
the fibroids. This causes them to shrink, thus eliminating or greatly reducing
their symptoms. [An overnight hospital stay is usually required for observation
and total recovery takes about a week.]
While this is a relatively new procedure, more than 7,000
UAE's have already been performed in the United States. [Data show that 9 out
of 10 patients who have the UAE experience significant relief of their symptoms.
While preserving fertility cannot be guaranteed, many women who have had the
procedure have gone on to deliver healthy, full term children after uncomplicated
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Created: 8/31/2001  - Donnica Moore, M.D.