Embolization Effective for Fibroids
Most Patients Satisfied With Treatment
WebMD News Archive
Feb. 26, 2008 -- A relatively new treatment for uterine fibroids is a
reasonable alternative to hysterectomy for women who want to avoid surgery, new
Outcomes among patients who had the treatment, known as
uterine artery embolization (UAE) or
uterine fibroid embolization (UFE), were compared to those of hysterectomy
patients in the trial from the Netherlands.
Both groups reported significantly improved health-related quality of life
two years after treatment, but nearly one out of four women initially treated
with UAE ended up having hysterectomies because of treatment failure.
"For those women seeking absolute certainty of being asymptomatic after
treatment, I would recommend a hysterectomy," study researcher Jim A.
Reekers, MD, PhD, says in a news release. "But for women who wish to retain
their uterus and who desire a fast recovery, I would definitely recommend
Fibroid Treatment Options
As many as one in four women have symptoms from uterine fibroids, which are
benign tumors of the uterus.
Symptoms of uterine fibroids can include heavy, painful menstrual bleeding,
pelvic pain or pressure, and
According to the National Women's Health Information Center, uterine
fibroids are the reason for about one-third of the 600,000 hysterectomies
performed in the U.S. each year.
Introduced just over a decade ago, uterine artery embolization is a
minimally invasive catheterization treatment designed to choke off uterine
A small tube is inserted into a leg artery and guided into the blood vessels
feeding the uterus. Tiny particles are then strategically injected to block the
blood supply that feeds the fibroids.
In most cases, the fibroid tissue shrinks or dies, leading to relief of
symptoms. Recovery time after UAE is typically around a week, compared to six
weeks with hysterectomy.
This is also far shorter than recovery times for another surgical fibroid
treatment known as myomectomy, in which the fibroids are removed but not the
The EMMY Findings
Reekers and colleagues report two-year follow-up from their Embolization
versus Hysterectomy (EMMY) trial in the March issue of the journal
The study included 177 women with uterine fibroids and heavy menstrual
bleeding, half of whom were initially randomly assigned to treatment with
UAE and the other half to hysterectomy.