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Uterine Fibroid Embolization as an Alternative to Hysterectomy

If you have uterine fibroids that are causing you pain, pressure or other symptoms, you should know that a hysterectomy is often not your only option for relief. Depending on your medical history, as well as the size and type of your fibroids, uterine fibroid embolization may be good non-surgical alternative to hysterectomy or myomectomy (surgical removal of the fibroids).

What Is Uterine Fibroid Embolization?

Uterine fibroid embolization is a minimally-invasive procedure used to treat fibroids that requires only a small nick in the skin rather than complete removal of the uterus. The procedure works by blocking the blood supply to fibroids, which causes the growths to shrink, significantly reducing fibroid symptoms.

Because the procedure is non-surgical, patients avoid lengthy recovery times and the risk of surgical complications. The procedure is generally completed in less than an hour, with patients able to go back to work in about a week.

Basically, an interventional radiologist uses x-rays and other types of imaging technology to see inside the patient’s body. After the patient is placed under conscious sedation, the doctor inserts a thin tube into an artery at the top of the thigh and uses real-time imaging to guide the tube to the uterine artery. The doctor then injects special particles that block the blood flow to blood vessels leading to the fibroids. These particles remain in place permanently, and the fibroid shrinks and dies. The doctor then repeats this procedure in the other uterine artery.

What Are Uterine Fibroids?

Uterine fibroids, often referred to simply as fibroids, are non-cancerous growths that are embedded in or on the walls of a woman’s uterus. These benign growths are very common in women, especially African American women and those with a family history of fibroids. Doctors often use ultrasound or other imaging modalities to diagnose fibroids.

While most fibroids do not cause symptoms, some do cause symptoms, including heavy, prolonged periods; anemia; pelvic pain or pressure; frequently having the urge to urinate; an abnormally enlarged belly; pain during sexual intercourse; and other health problems.

Seattle Diagnostic Imaging Services

To see if uterine fibroid embolization is a good option for you, consult our interventional radiologists. Via Radiology provides Seattle radiology and diagnostic imaging procedures including bone density exams, mammography, ultrasound, MRI, PET scan exams and CT scan exams. Contact us online for more information.