Uterine Fibroid Embolisation (UFE), also known as Uterine Artery Embolisation (UAE), is a way to treat the symptoms of fibroids without having surgery. UFE blocks the blood flow to the fibroids so as to reduce the blood flow and hence the size of the fibroid and remove the symptoms.
A. before and B. after embolisation
UFE is performed by a radiologist in an angiography suite.
The technique involves a needle and tube being placed into the right common femoral artery in the right groin. The overlying skin will have been injected with local anaesthetic to make it go numb. Although it seems a little strange, there is no feeling inside the blood vessels. The tube continues to be inserted under X-ray guidance until it is correctly positioned. Dye is injected and the blood vessels supplying the fibroid are examined.
The blood supply to the fibroid is reduced by injecting foam and tiny particles of plastic. Once this has been completed, the catheter is removed from the groin and a small clip or stitch is put into the tiny hole in the artery.
Like any medical procedure, UFE is associated with some risks or complications.
Uncommon risks at the time of the UFE include:
- Damaging the artery in the groin
- Having an allergic reaction to any of the medications you are given, including the iodine contrast media
- Damaging or blocking the blood supply to other parts of the body, other than the fibroid or uterus, is very rare
- Damaging the blood flow to the ovaries must be avoided. If your period does not come back after three months there may have been damage to the ovary. This will lead to early menopause
- Two weeks or more after the procedure a fever, sweats or increasing pelvic pain may occur this is caused by an infection in the fibroid and can be very serious.