House Call: Uterine artery embolization for treatment of fibroids
Although many uterine fibroids do not cause harmful symptoms and do not require treatment, in some cases, uterine fibroids cause symptoms within a woman that cause discomfort and disruption of everyday life.
In these cases, treatment is needed to alleviate these symptoms, and uterine fibroid artery embolization is one of several treatment options available for uterine fibroids.
Uterine fibroid embolization is a minimally invasive procedure that significantly reduces symptoms caused by uterine fibroids and serves as an effective option for those who do not want to undergo surgery.
During the procedure, an interventional radiologist makes a small incision in the groin and inserts a catheter into an artery. The catheter is guided through the artery to the uterus while the physician watches the progress of the procedure using a moving X-ray.
Tiny plastic particles, the size of grains of sand, are injected into the artery that is supplying blood to the fibroid tumor. This process cuts off the blood flow to the tumor(s), thus causing it to shrink.
Uterine fibroid embolization treats all tumors simultaneously, and only requires a one-night hospital stay, carries low patient risk, and involves a quick recovery period — most patients are able to return to work within a week.
In most cases, patients’ symptoms begin to subside within two to three months, especially those who suffered from heavy menstrual cycles. Within six to twelve months, symptoms caused by an enlarged uterus will also be significantly alleviated.
For those who have been diagnosed with uterine fibroids, it is important to discuss treatment options with your doctor. Cone Health has an exceptional network of OB/GYN specialists, interventional radiologists and other related healthcare providers dedicated to caring for the many health conditions that are unique to women. To find a specialist near you, visit conehealth.com.
Dr. Adam Henn is an interventional radiologist with Greensboro Radiology and a member of the Cone Health medical staff. Dr. Henn is a 1995 graduate of University of Iowa College of Medicine. He completed his residency in radiology at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, and a fellowship in vascular/interventional radiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.