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Vein Health: Uterine Artery Embolization

'Although many uterine fibroids do not cause harmful symptoms and do not require treatment, in some cases, uterine fibroids produce symptoms within a woman that cause discomfort and disruption of everyday life. When patients experience heavy bleeding, painful intercourse and pelvic pain caused by fibroids, treatment is needed to alleviate these symptoms. 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 or a vascular surgeon 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 beads, the size of grains of sand, are injected into the artery that is supplying blood to the fibroid. This process cuts off the blood flow to the fibroid(s), thus causing it to shrink.

Uterine fibroid embolization normally 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. Patients will check in with their surgeon once more during recovery, and then continue to follow up with their OB/GYN. 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 vascular surgeons, OB/GYN specialists, interventional radiologists and other related health care providers dedicated to caring for the many health conditions that are unique to women.

Physician Background:
Gregory Schnier, MD, RVT, is a vascular surgeon at Alamance Vein and Vascular Surgery, PA and a member of Cone Health Medical Group. Dr. Schnier received his Doctor of Medicine from Case Western Reserve University. He completed a general surgery residency at University of Louisville and a vascular surgical fellowship at The Cleveland Clinic Foundation.