Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE)
(also called uterine artery embolization) is another option for treating
uterine fibroids. It
shrinks or destroys uterine fibroids by blocking the artery that supplies blood
to them. During a UFE procedure, a radiologist places a thin, flexible tube
called a catheter into the upper thigh and guides it into the uterine artery
that supplies blood to the fibroids. A solution is then injected into the
uterine artery through the catheter.
UFE is a nonsurgical
myomectomy. It relieves fibroid symptoms for most
women. But in rare cases it can lead to complications such as serious
infection or early menopause.
UFE may be a reasonable treatment
- You have no childbearing plans.
Pregnancy is possible after UFE, but the risks to pregnancy after UFE are not
- Heavy uterine bleeding
and/or anemia has continued after several months of therapy
with birth control hormones and a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID).
- You have fibroid pain or pelvic pressure that affects your quality
- You have urinary or bowel problems from a fibroid that is
pressing on your bladder,
ureter, or bowel.
- You do not wish to have
a hysterectomy or myomectomy.
- You have a disease or disorder that
makes surgery with
general anesthesia dangerous.
- Uterine Fibroids: Should I Have Uterine Fibroid Embolization?
Another treatment used to destroy fibroids
without surgery is MRI-guided focused ultrasound. This treatment uses
high-intensity ultrasound waves to break down the fibroids. Studies show that
this treatment is safe and works well at relieving symptoms. But more studies
are needed to find out if it works over time.3 This treatment may not be available everywhere.
What to think about
In one study, about 1 out of 5
women who had uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) needed another UFE or a
hysterectomy within 3½ years.6
is possible after UFE. Whenever you need to prevent pregnancy after UFE, be
sure to use a dependable form of
Heavy, prolonged, and
painful periods caused by uterine fibroids will stop naturally when you reach
menopause. If you are nearing menopause and your
symptoms are tolerable with home treatment or medicines, then the benefits of UFE
may not outweigh the risks.
There are several other ways of removing fibroids or killing
fibroid tissue, including using extreme cold (cryomyolysis) or laser (myolysis). But
they are still new enough that risks and long-term benefits are not yet fully
known. If your doctor offers one of these
procedures, ask how many of the procedures he or she has done, how successful
they have been, and what kinds of problems can result. These treatments are not
recommended for women who are trying to become pregnant.4 And these treatments may not be available everywhere.