Uterine artery embolization
Uterine artery embolization (UAE) is a procedure to treat fibroids without surgery. Uterine fibroids are noncancerous (benign) tumors that develop in the uterus (womb).
During the procedure, the blood supply to the fibroids is cut off. This typically causes the fibroids to shrink.
Uterine fibroid embolization; UFE; UAE
UAE is done by a doctor called an interventional radiologist.
You will be awake, but you will not feel pain. This is called conscious sedation. The procedure takes about 1 to 3 hours.
The procedure is usually done this way:
Why the Procedure Is Performed
UAE is an effective way to treat symptoms caused by some types of fibroids. Discuss with your health care provider whether this procedure is likely to be successful for you.
Women who have UAE may:
UAE is generally safe.
Risks of any invasive procedure are:
Risks of UAE are:
Before the Procedure
Always tell your provider:
On the day of UAE:
After the Procedure
You may stay in the hospital overnight. Or you may go home the same day.
You will receive pain medicine. You will be instructed to lie flat for 4 to 6 hours after the procedure.
Follow any other instructions about taking care of yourself after you go home.
Moderate to severe abdominal and pelvic cramps are common for the first 24 hours after the procedure. They may last for a few days to 2 weeks. Cramps may be severe and may last more than 6 hours at a time.
Most women recover quickly and are able to return to normal activities within 7 to 10 days. Sometimes portions of the treated fibroid tissue may pass through your vagina.
UAE works well to decrease pain, pressure, and bleeding from fibroids in most women who have the procedure.
UAE is less invasive than surgical treatments for uterine fibroids. Many women may return more quickly to activities than after surgery.
Most studies show that some women require additional procedures to completely treat their symptoms. These procedures include hysterectomy (surgery to remove the uterus), myomectomy (surgery to remove the fibroid) or repeating the UAE.
Dolan MS, Hill C, Valea FA. Benign gynecologic lesions: vulva, vagina, cervix, uterus, oviduct, ovary, ultrasound imaging of pelvic structures. In: Lobo RA, Gershenson DM, Lentz GM, Valea FA, eds. Comprehensive Gynecology. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 18.
Moravek MB, Bulun SE. Uterine fibroids. In: Jameson JL, De Groot LJ, de Kretser DM, et al, eds. Endocrinology: Adult and Pediatric. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 131.
Spies JB, Czeyda-Pommersheim F. Uterine fibroid embolization. In: Mauro MA, Murphy KPJ, Thomson KR, Venbrux AC, Morgan RA, eds. Image-Guided Interventions. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 76.
Review Date: 9/25/2018
Reviewed By: John D. Jacobson, MD, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Loma Linda Center for Fertility, Loma Linda, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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