Uterine Artery Embolization (UAE) is a medical procedure to treat ‘fibroids’ without surgery. Fibroids or non-cancerous growths in the uterus are frequently seen as tumors in the female reproductive system.
Though most of these are benign (non-cancerous), they may take the size of a small pea or a small grapefruit, causing severe pelvic pain, heavy menstrual bleeding, etc.
According to the statistics, the embolization of fibroids by experienced physicians is 95% successful in alleviating the symptoms. However, the treatment for this uterine problem varies depending upon the patient’s age, symptoms, success rate of the previous treatments, or the desire to have children.
If you are still concerned about the results of this treatment, this article will clear all your doubts. Let’s start with some important things you should know before going for UAE-
Things You Should Know About UAE
- Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE), or UAE is a minimally invasive, non-surgical treatment for uterine fibroids.
- It is a less complicated treatment that reduces pain and blood loss.
- It won’t cause any harm to the uterus.
- With minimum recovery time, this treatment allows the patients to return home the same day and continue the normal tasks within a week.
How Is The Treatment Performed?
First, you’ll receive anesthesia that makes you feel relaxed. The treatment is carried out by a radiologist who inserts a thin catheter into the artery at the wrist or groin.
The injected fluid containing Iodine flows into the uterine arteries and their branches. When seen in the fluoroscope’s monitor, the fibroids light-up more brightly than uterine tissues.
This way, the radiologist identifies the right area of uterine arteries and injects tiny particles made of gelatin or plastic. These particles carried by the blood flow block the fibroid vessels. It shrinks or softens the fibroids and reduces bleeding.
What Happens After The UAE Treatment?
After the procedure, you’ll be taken to the recovery room. When the effects of anesthesia fade away, they’ll take you to the hospital room for observation.
Most of the patients are discharged within a day or two. Some of the things to keep in mind are:
Minor cramping or pain, nausea is normal due to a temporary drop in the blood flow to uterine muscles. Also, the pain may peak during the first 24 hours after the treatment. Your doctor will give you medications to manage it.
You might have a vaginal discharge for a few weeks after the embolization. But, it should stop without treatment. If you suspect an ongoing symptom such as infection, consult your doctor.
In order to prevent pooling of the blood to the femoral artery side, consider lying flat for several hours post-treatment.
Characterized by fatigue, pain, fever, vomiting, etc., the post-embolization syndrome is common. It may last for up to 48 hours and gets resolved on its own within a week. The catheter is removed the following day, and you are asked to walk around.
Why Might You Need Uterine Fibroid Embolization?
The primary reason for having UFE is to treat uterine fibroid tumors that cause pain or other problems. In most cases, fibroids occur during the child-bearing age.
Besides this, your physician may recommend if you have:
- An enlarged uterus.
- Pain in the back or legs might be due to the fibroids pressing on the nerves.
- Bloating and constipation.
- Anemia from uterine bleeding.
- Pain or fullness in the belly.
- Irregular menstrual cycle.
However, if you are expecting, or have an allergy to the material containing Iodine, talk to your physician beforehand. He / She may give you other instructions, depending on the situation.
We hope this information will help you to decide if uterine artery embolization is the right treatment for you. If you find any symptoms, don’t hesitate to consult with a doctor. It’s better to catch the problem before it gets too late!