Uterine Fibroids (leiomyomas) are benign growths in the uterus. They occur in 20 to 50 percent of women and can cause pain, cramping, heavy periods or irregular periods. The standard approach to treating fibroids in the past has been hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus). Approximately one-third of the 600,000 hysterectomies performed in the USA each year are to treat fibroids!
Fibroids can cause a variety of symptoms including: heavy bleeding, pelvic pain/cramping, urinary frequency or incontinence, constipation, pelvic pressure or "fullness". They can cause pain during sexual intercourse and also result in a difficulty in becoming pregnant.
Fortunately there is now a new, state-of-the art method of treating fibroids without surgery! It involves passing a very small catheter (see picture) into the artery supplying the fibroids, and injecting tiny particles to stop the blood supply to the fibroids, thereby killing them without surgery.
This treatment allows for a much shorter hospital stay and recovery time than traditional surgery. Typically, patients stay one night in the hospital after UFE (versus 4-6 nights after hysterectomy) and are back to full activity in 1 week (versus 6 weeks after hysterectomy).
Based on the literature, 80% of women experience significant relief of symptoms related to fibroids and require no further treatments, including surgery. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology has therefore given UFE the highest level of support as an alternative for women wishing to avoid surgery.
Our physicians have had specialized training in UFE by the most highly regarded UFE experts in the country. We provide pre-procedural outpatient evaluation to ensure the appropriate candidates are chosen for this treatment and continue with longitudinal outpatient follow-up after the procedure.
Is this procedure effective?
80% of women who undergo UFE never need another treatment for fibroids again. Most women notice a significant improvement early on. Studies that have compared it to hysterectomy and myomectomy have demonstrated similar results and patient satisfaction with UFE offering the additional benefits of shorter hospital stays and recovery time.
How long is the recovery?
Patients usually stay in the hospital for 1 night after the procedure and go home in the morning. 2/3 of patients feel well enough in 1 week to return to full activity or work. 1/3 of patients require two weeks of recovery before they can return to full activity.
What are the common side effects associated with UFE?
Usual side effects include pelvic pain/cramping, nausea/vomiting and low grade fevers initially. The peak of these side effects is usually 8-10 hours post-procedure and then gradually improves over the next week. These symptoms are a sign that the fibroids are no longer getting enough blood supply and oxygen. These symptoms can be managed with medications.
What are some complications associated with UFE?
There is a low risk (<%) of significant bleeding with UFE from the puncture site in the artery in the groin. There is a very low risk of infection. There is risk of early menopause, particularly in patients over the age of 45, usually estimated at 2-5%.
Does this procedure have the support of the Ob/Gyn doctors?
Although some Ob/Gyn doctors still may not know about the procedure, UFE has received the full endorsement of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology as a successful and safe alternative to hysterectomy for the treatment of uterine fibroids.
Is this procedure covered by my insurance?
UFE is a well-known procedure and covered by all major insurance carriers.
Do you have a lot of experience with this procedure?
We have performed the largest number of UFE procedures in the area with unparalleled experience in minimally invasive care.
How do I learn more?
Talk to your physician and they can arrange a consultation with us by calling our office at (207) 883-0934.
Did You Know? We treat varicose veins and spider veins? Varicose veins are swollen veins which protrude in a rope-like manner under the skin. Normal veins, by virtue of one-way valves, channel blood against gravity up the leg and back to the heart. When a valve becomes defective, it allows blood flow to leak back down the leg resulting in congestion and swelling of the vein. This is a medical condition called Venous Insufficiency.