Outpatient Fibroid Treatment Beats Open Surgery
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Myomectomy patients did tend to report better improvement in the sensation of uterine pressure, while UFE patients tended to report less pain after the procedure. Consequently, UFE patients reported using pain medication for only three to four days, compared to a week for myomectomy patients. UFE patients also returned to normal activity in about seven days instead of 35 days for those who underwent open surgery, and about 4% of UFE patients reported complications compared to more than 19% of the myomectomy patients.
"In myomectomy, they can't get all the fibroids, but with embolization, all of the fibroids are treated at the same time," Razavi says. "The key is that for appropriately selected patients, embolization performed better than myomectomy."
Most of the experts consulted by WebMD were quick to note that while normal pregnancies have been reported in women who have undergone UFE, the procedure is not currently recommended for women who intend to become pregnant.
Symptoms aren't the only thing that improves after UFE, according to a small study by Jackeline Gomez-Jorge, MD, assistant professor of interventional radiology at the University of Miami in Florida.
"It was very interesting to find out that this procedure does not adversely affect patients' sex lives, and, in fact, may improve them," Gomez-Jorge tells WebMD.
Gomez-Jorge and colleagues at Georgetown University gave a brief, nine-item questionnaire to 115 premenopausal patients who underwent UFE. Half the women responded to the explicit questions. The results:
- 64% of patients had no change in strength of orgasms
- 6% of patients reported stronger orgasms; 6% reported no orgasms
- 56% of patients reported internal orgasms with uterine contractions
- 80% of patients reported continued sexual desire more than once per week, vs. 8% who had no interest in sex
- 34% of patients reported sex more than five times in the last month
"It is my impression that by keeping the anatomy intact -- the nerve endings, the organs, and tissues -- to my mind it seems that would be an advantage to UFE," Gomez-Jorge says. "Of course, sexual response is more than anatomy -- but as far as the physical part, keeping your uterus, keeping your vagina, keeping the aspects that have to do with the sexual response may be an advantage. This is particularly true for those women who experience uterine contractions as part of their sexual response."