What is Uterine Artery Embolization?
It is a minimal invasive surgery used as an effective fibroids treatment method in women. Uterine artery embolization is also known as uterine fibroid embolization.
In uterine artery embolization, your doctor will inject certain particles to the arteries and block the blood supply to the fibroids. The injected particles are called embolic agents and it can be very small articles like sand. It will stick to the wall of the arteries and thus creating a clot in the blood. As a result, the fibroids will shrink and die. You will get rid of the symptoms of fibroid eventually. .
What are fibroids?
As you know, fibroids are abnormal growths that develop inside a woman’s uterus. The size of the fibroid can range from that of a pea to that of a grape fruit. It is made of smooth muscles and fibrous connective tissues inside the uterus. Uterus fibroids are responsible in creating various discomforts in women during child-bearing years. The symptoms of fibroid may or may not include heavy menstrual bleeding, irregular or prolonged periods, pain in the lower back and abdomen, pelvic pain etc. It can be the cause of infertility as well.
Why is uterine artery embolization used?
Uterine artery embolization is majorly used to treat fibroids that are of non-cancerous nature. Fibroids of cancerous nature are very rare. Hormones and medications are used to bring down the symptoms of fibroids. In case the fibroid is of larger size, uterine artery embolization is not recommended.
The doctor may advise the treatment procedure when you have:
- Infertility caused by fibroids
- Heavy bleeding and severe abdominal pain from fibroids
- Enlargement in the uterus or abdomen
- Anaemia caused by heavy bleeding caused by fibroids
- Abdominal or bowel pressure resulting in tendency for frequent urination or constipation
- Pain during sexual intercourse
You will be given sedation or local anaesthesia. The doctor will make an incision around the groin area and inserts a catheter in the femoral artery located at the top of your leg. Embolic agents are inserted to the uterine artery that supplies blood to the fibroid. These particles will block the blood supply to the fibroids causing its shrinkage and eventually it will die off. The doctor will use X-rays and other imaging methods to find out the arteries that supply blood to the fibroid. Once the embolization is over, the catheter will be removed and the doctors will take necessary steps to stop bleeding from the groin.
In case of no further complications, you can leave the hospital on same day or the next day once your vital signs are normal. You may experience severe abdominal or pelvic cramps after the procedure and will continue for a few days more.
Risks in uterine artery embolization
The possible risks involved in the procedure are:
- Uterus injury
- Injury in the artery
- Infection or bleeding
- Non-shrinkage of the fibroids
- Lack of menstrual periods or premature menopause
- Change in ovarian function
- Risks in future pregnancy