What is uterine fibroid embolization?
Uterine fibroid embolization is a way to treat fibroids of the uterus without surgery. Fibroids are masses of fibrous muscle tissue in the uterine wall. These fibroids are often painful and cause heavy menstrual bleeding.
How is uterine fibroid embolization done?
In uterine fibroid embolization a small tube called a catheter is inserted in the groin area and guided to the blood vessels that deliver blood to the uterus. Once the catheter is in place, Dr. Christenson will infuse small particles into the vessel, which will block the blood flow to the fibroids. When the fibroid looses its blood supply it also looses its supply of oxygen and nutrients. With loss of blood supply, oxygen, and nutrients the fibroid shrinks and symptoms associated with fibroid improve. Uterine fibroid embolization usually takes 1 to 3 hours.
What are the risks of uterine fibroid embolization?
There are some side effects associated with uterine fibroid embolization. These side effects may include pelvic cramps, mild nausea, and low-grade fever. These symptoms may be most severe in the first 24 hours after the procedure but rapidly improve over the next several days..
What needs to be done to get ready for uterine fibroid embolization?
We will contact you the day before your procedure to review important instructions and answer any questions you may have.
It is important that we know if you have ever had a reaction to contrast (x-ray dye). If you take blood-thinning medicines like Coumadin, Lovenox, or Plavix, we may ask you to stop taking those medicines 3 to 9 days before your procedure. We will give you instructions on this.
Before your procedure you will be given a sedative medication through your IV. The medication may make you sleepy and will help to reduce any discomfort you may have during the procedure.
For some people staying awake for the procedure may be difficult or not possible. These people may need anesthesia (medicines to make you sleep during the procedure). Let us know right away if you:
• Have needed anesthesia for basic procedures in the past
• Have sleep apnea or chronic breathing problems (you might use a CPAP or BiPAP device while sleeping)
• Use high doses of narcotic painkiller
• Have severe heart, lung, or kidney disease
• Cannot lie flat for about 2 to 3 hours because of back or breathing problems
• Have a hard time lying still during medical procedures
Preparing for your procedure
• Do not eat or drink starting at 10 pm the day before your procedure.
• Take all of your medicines on the day of your procedure. Do NOT skip them unless we instruct you do to so.
• Bring a list of all of your medicines you take with you.
• If there is a delay in getting your procedure started it is usually because we need to treat other people with unexpected or emergency problems. Thank you for your patience if this occurs.
• A nurse or medical assistant will give you a hospital gown to put on and a bag for your belongings. Please do not bring valuable items with you.
• You may use the restroom at any time, just let the nurse know.
• An intravenous (IV) line will be started. You will be given fluids and medicine through the IV
• Dr. Christenson will talk with you about the procedure and ask you to sign a consent form if that has not already been done. You may ask any questions you have at any time.
What happens after the procedure?
• You will stay in the hospital overnight for pain control and observation. We will watch you closely for any signs of bleeding or infection.
• You will need to rest in bed for 2 to 6 hours. The nurses will monitor the puncture site in your groin for bleeding.
• Most people go home the next day. Most patients recover from the effects of uterine fibroid embolization in 1 to 2 weeks.
• It may take 2 to 3 months for the fibroids to shrink enough so that symptoms such as pain and pressure improve. It is common for heavy bleeding to improve during the first menstrual cycle after the procedure.
When you get home
- Relax at home the rest of the day. Make sure you have a family member, friend or caregiver to help you.
- Resume taking your usual medications as soon as you start to eat. Take only the medicines your doctors prescribed or approved.
- You may need to be off work for 1 to 2 weeks after the procedure. You may need some help with household chores during this time.
When to Call
Call us right away if you have:
- Bleeding or swelling at the groin puncture site
- New coolness, pain, or decreased sensation in your leg below the puncture site
- New abdominal and/or pelvic pain
- Vomiting, fever or chills.