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Home > Procedures > Inverventional Radiology Procedures: Uterine Fibroid Embolization

Uterine Fibroid Embolization (“UFE”)

What are fibroids?

Fibroids are benign tumors in the uterus, often presenting between the ages of 30-50, that present with recurrent bleeding, abnormal menses, abdominal pain and cramping, or abdominal bloating.

How are they diagnosed?

Fibroids are often initially diagnosed clinically. Further evaluation with ultrasound and MRI can confirm the diagnosis.

How are they treated?

Options previously involved myomectomy (surgical removal of the fibroid) or hysterectomy. A new procedure called “UFE” that involves only percutaneous access is used to safely treat fibroids

What is UFE?

Embolization of fibroids involves placing a microcatheter into the uterine artery on either side of the pelvis and injecting tiny beads that slow and then elminate flow to the uterus.  This results in slow shrinkage of the tumors and resolution of symptoms. The uterus is spared due to its vast circulation.

Patient Management

Uterine Fibroid EmbolizationAll patients are consulted by the IR physicians prior to undergoing the procedure.            A pre-procedural MRI is performed to assess fibroid burden and other possible etiologies of patient’s symptoms.Patient is treated and then admitted overnight for observation.

  • Discharge to home is on the following morning.
  • Patients are seen by the IR physician as follow-up appointments to assess patient progress.
  • A follow-up MRI is obtained at 6 months to assess tumor shrinkage.

For more information, please see


Types of Uterine Fiborids

Uterine Fiborid Embolization

Uterine Fibroids are classified according to their location within the uterus. There are three primary types of fibroid tumors:

Subserosal fibroids develop in the outer portion of the uterus and continue to grow outward. These typically do not affect a woman's menstrual flow, or cause excessive menstrual bleeding, but can cause pain due to their size and pressure on other organs.

Intramural fibroid tumors are the most common type and develop within the uterine wall and expand, which makes the uterus feel larger than normal (and may cause "bulk symptoms"). Symptoms associated with intramural fibroids are heavy menstrual bleeding, pelvic pain, back pain, frequent urination and pressure.

Submucosal fibroids develop just under the lining of the uterine cavity. The least common type of fibroid tumors, they often cause symptoms such as very heavy prolonged menstrual periods and excessive menstrual bleeding.

Pedunculated uterine fibroids occur when the fibroid grows on a stalk. Pedunculated fibroids can occur either into the uterus or grow on the outside of the uterus.

Uterine fibroids may also be referred to as myoma, leiomyoma, leiomyomata, and fibromyoma.

A woman may have one or all of these types of fibroids. It is common for a woman to have multiple fibroid tumors and it may be difficult to understand which fibroid is causing your symptoms. Because fibroid tumors are a diffuse disease of the uterus, there are usually more fibroids present than can be detected because of their small size. Even a woman who has only one visible fibroid needs to assume that there are multiple uterine fibroids present when discussing therapy.

Non-surgical Option: Alternatives to Hysterectomy

Uterine fibroid embolization, also known as artery embolization, is a procedure where an interventional radiologist uses a catheter to deliver Embosphere® Microspheres that block the blood supply to the fibroids. This is a minimally-invasive, non-surgical therapy that treats all fibroids. This fibroid treatment usually takes less than one hour. Clinical data suggests that patients treated with Embosphere Microspheres return to work and daily activities on average within 11 days. Patients treated with other embolic agents return to work and daily activities between 13 and 16 days. Potential benefits of UFE include:

  • Preservation of the uterus
  • Decrease in menstrual bleeding from symptomatic fibroids
  • Decrease in urinary dysfunction
  • Decrease in pelvic pain and/or pressure
  • No surgical removal of the uterus and possible need of hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
  • Virtually no blood loss
  • Covered by most insurance companies
  • Out-patient procedure (generally 10 to 23 hours)
  • More confidence with less chance of soiling events
  • Overall significant improvement in patient's physical and emotional well-being

Overall, UFE is a safe procedure for treating symptomatic fibroids with minimal risk. Overall, 96% of patients indicated they were happy with their twelve month outcome, and would recommend UFE to a friend. Most reported risk factors and complications associated with UFE are transient amenorrhea, common short term allergic reaction/rash, vaginal discharge/infection, possible fibroid passage, and "post-embolization syndrome." For more comprehensive information see possible risks and complications associated with UFE.


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