Uterine fibriods are the most common benign (non-cancerous) tumor of the uterus, occurring in 20-50% of women. The cause of fibroids is not known, and there is no reason to treat fibroids unless they are symptomatic. Once a women has fibroids, they will continue to grow until menopause, at which time the decrease in estrogen in the body causes the fibroids to stop growing and then slowly shrink.
Symptoms of fibroids include heavy bleeding, pelvic pain, pelvic pressure/bloating, urinary retention and constipation. The most common symptom is heavy bleeding during menses, which can lead to anemia.
Many doctors do not discuss uterine artery embolization (UAE) as a treatment option and advise patients with fibroids to have a hysterectomy. UAE is a well-researched, proven effective treatment for uterine fibroids and is considered a first-line treatment for fibroids by the American College of Gynecology. However, many patients still are only being offered hysterectomy, leaving women to seek out a non-surgical treatment on their own. UAE was first performed in 1995 and has helped over 10,000 women treat their fibroids without removing the uterus.
UAE is performed in a hospital, and requires one night of observation. A small catheter is placed into the artery at the groin and passed into the uterine artery. Small pellets called Embospheres are administered through the catheter which causes the fibroid to lose its blood supply and shrink. (See picture.) Following UAE a patient can be back at work in one week, versus 4-6 for a traditional hysterectomy.
If you would like to schedule an appointment to get a second opinion and to learn more about UAE, please call IVC at 503-612-0498.