What is it?
Uterine fibroids are noncancerous tumors in the uterus. Uterine fibroid embolization is a nonsurgical procedure that shrinks and destroys the fibroids by stopping the blood supply to them.
What is it for?
If not destroyed, uterine fibroids can cause bleeding, pelvic pressure and pain, a low blood count, constipation and waking up continuously at night to urinate.
How to prepare
- You will undergo a physical examination that may include blood tests and other diagnostic examinations
- You will discuss your complete medical history with your doctor including medications and allergies
- You will be given instructions about what to eat and drink prior to the procedure
- The procedure might take place as an outpatient surgery or you may have to stay overnight in the hospital
- It might be a good idea to have a friend or family member stay with you for a few days following the procedure
- Bleeding or blood clots
- Large accumulation of blood at the puncture site in the groin
- Uterine injury or infection in the uterus
- Loss of menstrual periods
What happens during?
A catheter is inserted into the uterine artery. Small gelatin or plastic materials are injected through the catheter into the blood vessels transporting blood to the fibroids. These materials obstruct the blood supply to the arteries that bring blood to the fibroids. X-ray imaging is used to see the blood vessels providing blood to the fibroids. Without a blood supply, the fibroids eventually decrease in size and die.
What happens after?
- Limit your activities for two days after the procedure. It is recommended not to climb stairs or bend at the waist during this two-day period.
- You probably shouldn’t drive for at least a day
- Don’t lift anything heavier than 10 pounds for one week after the procedure
Upon returning home, call your doctor if you have:
- Problems breathing
- A fever above 100.5°F
- Constant numbness or significant pain in the leg
- A leg that looks blue or feels cold
- Warmth, redness or swelling at the incision site
- Bruising, swelling or bleeding at the catheter site
- Bloody urine
- Black or tar-like stools