Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) is a technique for cutting off the blood supply of uterine fibroids to get them to shrink. It is sometimes referred to as uterine artery embolization (UAE). This procedure is performed exclusively by interventional radiologists -- doctors who are specially trained to do minimally invasive vascular procedures, such as angioplasty and embolization, to treat a variety of conditions.
UFE is performed in a manner similar to a heart catheterization, whereby a small catheter (plastic tube) is introduced into the right femoral artery through a tiny skin nick in your groin. The catheter is guided using an x-ray camera into each uterine artery, where microscopic particles are injected, killing all of the fibroids at the same time.
You will not be aware of anything happening on the inside and the groin area is thoroughly numbed before starting. You will also feel very relaxed from potent medicines given to you through an intravenous line and may fall asleep.
UFE is 90% effective in relieving symptoms. Please see Complications for risks associated with uterine fibroid embolization.
A consultation with us about UFE includes a full history and a limited physical examination (no pelvic exam), which are performed by a Nurse Practitioner or Physician Assistant and you will meet with the doctor following. Please fill out your medical history form completely in advance, as this will streamline your visit. Please write down all medications you are taking and bring this with you.
At your visit, your imaging studies will be reviewed and you will have the opportunity to ask any questions you have about the procedure. We are not able to determine whether you are a candidate for UFE or not without seeing the pictures themselves (the report alone is not sufficient). If your imaging was not done at Stanford, please bring a copy of your CD or films with you unless other arrangements have been made to send it to our office ahead of time.