Uterine Fibroids Embolisation (UFE)

What is Uterine Fibroid Embolisation (UFE)?

Uterine Fibroid Embolisation or UFE is a non-surgical treatment for fibroids of the uterus. The procedure involves blocking the blood flow to the fibroids with the aim of shrinking and destroying them. UFE is a treatment option for women with fibroid problems who do not wish to have their fibroids treated with hysterectomy, do not plan to be pregnant in the future, and have not reached menopause.

What are fibroids?

Fibroids are non-cancerous (benign) growths that that grow in the uterus (womb). They can vary in size and are common, especially in women aged between 30 and 50 those who are overweight. In many cases fibroids go unnoticed and produce no symptoms. However when symptoms do develop these may include swelling or discomfort in the abdomen, heavy or prolonged bleeding, constipation and frequent urination. Hormonal changes following menopause usually cause fibroids to shrink and any symptoms to reduce, however hormone replacement therapy can delay this happening.

If symptoms are troubling, fibroids can be treated in a number of ways, including hysterectomy and Uterine Fibroid Embolisation (UFE).

About the fibroid embolisation procedure

The procedure is carried out by an Interventional Radiologist who is specially trained in UFE. Firstly you will be sedated, and then a thin, flexible tube called a catheter is placed into a blood vessel in the upper thigh (femoral artery). A substance called contrast material is then injected into the catheter. The radiologist uses real-time X-ray on a video screen (fluoroscopy) to see the contrast medium as it flows through your blood vessels and guides the catheter to the arteries that are supplying blood to the fibroid. A solution of tiny particles is then injected into those uterine arteries through the catheter. These particles build up to block blood flow to the fibroid. The treated fibroids should gradually shrink in size in the months following the procedure.

Following the Uterine Fibroid Embolisation procedure you will need to spend 1 or 2 nights in hospital before going home. Once home you are free to resume normal activities as soon as you feel able, which for some will take 2-3 weeks, UFE is a generally safe procedure which has been reviewed by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Royal College of Radiologists,. As with any medical treatment there are some risks and possible complications. Your Spire consultant will discuss these with you and you are encouraged to ask any questions regarding your treatment and options.

If you are interested in receiving UFE treatment, simply speak to your GP about a referral, or call Spire for more information. GP referrals can be to either a Spire Gynaecologist or Interventional Radiologist, who will work together to arrange your treatment and care.

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