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UFE: A Minimally Invasive Alternative to Hysterectomy

An estimated 20 to 50 percent of middle-aged women suffer from fibroids throughout their lifetime. Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous growths that can form either inside or just outside of the uterus. They develop from normal uterine muscle cells for an unknown reason and can cause uncomfortable or painful symptoms if left untreated.

At IVC, we focus on providing minimally invasive and nonsurgical treatment options whenever possible. We are proud to offer minimally invasive Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) procedures to our patients interested in a nonsurgical alternative to hysterectomy surgery. Fibroids are an all-too-common issue that can prove to be more than just a nuisance. At IVC, we will help you find the least invasive and safest method to alleviate your fibroid symptoms.

The Risks and Limitations of Hysterectomy

Hysterectomy, a surgical procedure that directly removes the uterus through an abdominal incision, can successfully treat fibroids by eliminating them altogether. While hysterectomy solves the problem, it comes with risks and side effects that are inherent to most invasive surgical procedures. Side effects from hysterectomy can include blood clots, infection and other dangerous or uncomfortable symptoms. Patients can also experience adverse reactions to general anesthesia, a common risk for most surgeries.

Aside from any potential side effects, hysterectomy also ends a woman’s ability to have children. Fibroids develop in reproductive-aged women, so removing the uterus can be a serious drawback of the procedure. Thankfully, UFE offers effective fibroid treatment without removing the uterus.

Effective Treatment without Surgical Removal

UFE works by blocking off the blood vessels that feed into the fibroids using small embolic particles. A catheter is inserted through a tiny nick in the thigh or wrist to gain access to the major arteries. Using image guidance the catheter is directed to the small arteries responsible for supplying blood to the fibroids. Once the catheter is in place, the microsphere particles are injected into the blood vessels to embolize the fibroids, causing them to cease growing and gradually shrink.

UFE is minimally invasive, requiring no general anesthesia or extensive downtime is necessary. A hysterectomy typically results in an average of six weeks of recovery, but UFE patients can resume normal activities within a week. While not every woman is a potential candidate for UFE and hysterectomy can still be a viable and successful form of fibroid treatment, we always recommend a minimally invasive UFE procedure when possible for our patients.

Scar-Free Fibroid Treatment

Because UFE does not involve a large incision and only requires a small nick in the skin for insertion of the catheter, patients can expect to heal from treatment without a noticeable scar. Following a hysterectomy, patients are left with large horizontal scars that span their waistline below the navel. With UFE, we can shrink your fibroids to eliminate your symptoms, no scar necessary.

Live in Comfort Again with UFE Treatments at IVC

If you have been diagnosed with fibroids, then you likely have experienced some of the unpleasant side effects associated with their development. Fibroids place pressure on the uterus and can create intense abdominal pain and cramps. They can also cause heavy bleeding during menstrual periods or abnormal bleeding between periods. Fibroids can also result in urinary incontinence or frequent urination.

While benign, fibroids can negatively affect your quality of life on a day-to-day basis. If you are experiencing unpleasant fibroid symptoms but are not interested in surgical treatment options, then schedule a consultation at IVC to learn more about UFE. At IVC, we are committed to providing our patients with comfortable, effective treatment in a welcoming and professional environment.

We are proud to be the only independent vascular and interventional radiology practice in the Northwest, making us uniquely qualified to deliver the safest and most advanced treatments for common women’s health issues. To learn more about UFE or to schedule a consultation with one of our qualified doctors, call IVC today at 503-612-0498.

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