Canada Vascular

Uterine Fibroids & Uterine Artery Embolization for Fibroids

Background

Treatment Options

Uterine Artery Embolization for Fibroids (UAE/UFE)

How Can I Get (UAE/UFE)?

Common Questions & Answers

Bibliography

 

 


Common Questions & Answers

Embolization Technique

What kind of fibroids can you embolize?

All sizes of fibroids have been successfully embolized. The shrinkage will lead to greater symptom reduction in fibroids smaller than a 5 - month sized pregnancy. The embolization process affects all fibroids within the uterus wherever they are located.

Can the plastic particles used in embolization cause any damage to other organs?

Plastic particles are injected into the artery supplying the fibroids. They are carried under pressure from the heart into smaller arteries where they lodge. They cannot travel into other parts of the body. The uterus, unlike the fibroids, gets its blood supply from other arteries, which swell when the uterine arteries are cut off by embolization. Thus, the uterus continues to survive without compromise.

How fast does embolization work?

Fibroids begin to shrink immediately. Improvement in bleeding is immediate, and shrinkage is reached 90% of total by six months after the procedure.

Are there side effects?

Almost every patient experiences cramping pain for one or two days after embolization. Many patients go home on the afternoon of their procedure. Some patients, especially those with larger fibroids experience a low-grade fever after embolization.

Are some people allergic to the things they put into you when they embolize you?

Particles used for UFE have not caused an allergic reaction in any patient, in any part of the body in the 20 years they have been used.

Is there a general anesthetic administered?

For embolization, no.

Are some fibroids too big to be embolized?

Generally speaking, all sizes have been successfully embolized. The greatest success is with fibroids under the 5-month pregnancy size, but we've also successfully shrunk fibroids the size of cantaloupes.

Can the particles used in embolization leak to other parts of the body?

Absolutely not. Particles are only injected into arteries supplying fibroids. Blood pressure carries the particles forward until they reach the narrowest part of the artery and lodge there. Once in place, they can't fall out or flow backwards to any other part of the body.

Will embolization keep new fibroids from forming?

Recurrence after embolization has not occurred. This is one of its major advantages over myomectomy, where fibroids which have been surgically removed often grow back.

Symptoms

Is there a right age for embolization?

No. Fibroids affect women of all ages. The right time to do something about them is the moment they become a problem.

What are some of the reasons I wouldn't be a candidate for embolization?

Embolization is not a cure for cancer. Certain other diseases might be present causing symptoms similar to those caused by fibroids. We will screen you for these conditions.

Status of Embolization

Is embolization experimental?

Embolization has been used to control hemorrhage (heavy bleeding) in many parts of the body, including the uterus for more than twenty years. Nothing is experimental about the procedure.

How long have you been performing embolization for control of heavy bleeding?

The faculty of the Toronto Endovascular Centre have been performing a variety of embolization techniques for over five years.

Why doesn't my doctor perform embolization?

The procedure requires specific training in radiology as well as gynecology. Many physicians do not have the capacity to combine the two disciplines in their practice.

Fertility

What about fertility?

Women have conceived after embolization. In fact we know of no patient who could become pregnant before embolization who could not after this procedure. Women have successfully carried babies to term after embolization. Ask your doctor about the risks to fertility associated with major surgery such as myomectomy before deciding upon embolization.

How soon after embolization can I resume attempts to become pregnant?

We advise you to wait 6-12 months after embolization before attempting to become pregnant.

Insurance and Cost

Is embolization covered by OHIP?

Yes, embolization is covered by OHIP and the provincial health plans.

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