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Uterine Fibroid Embolization Treatment Information
What to Expect
Your doctor will gather information about your symptoms a few days or weeks before your embolization procedure. He or she will also take images of the uterus to note the location, size and number of fibroids. Imaging tests include:
If you are bleeding heavily between menstrual cycles, the doctor may also take a biopsy of the inner lining of the uterus (endometrium) to rule out cancer.
Follow your doctor's instructions the night before the procedure. Typically, you will be asked to:
- Not eat or drink after midnight
- Restrict certain medicines
You should plan to stay overnight at the hospital on the day of the procedure.
On the day of the procedure:
- You will be asked to change into a hospital gown when you arrive at the hospital.
- A nurse or technologist will insert an IV line into a vein in your hand or arm so that you can receive sedative medicine. The sedative will make you feel relaxed and sleepy.
- A member of your care team will take you to the catheterization lab.
- A nurse or technologist will attach devices to your body to monitor your heart rate and blood pressure.
- A nurse will shave, sterilize and cover with a surgical drape the area of your body where the catheter will be inserted (usually in the groin area or wrist).
- You may or may not remain awake depending on how deeply you are sedated.
- The interventional radiologist will numb the incision site with a local anesthetic.
- He or she will make a very small skin incision.
- Using X-ray guidance, the interventional radiologist will insert a catheter into the femoral artery (located in the groin area) or the radial artery in the wrist. You may feel pressure when the catheter is inserted.
- A contrast material will be used to highlight the uterine arteries on the X-ray images.
- As the contrast material passes through your body, you may get a warm feeling.
- The interventional radiologist will use the imaging to guide the catheter into the uterine arteries.
- At the end of the procedure, the interventional radiologist will remove the catheter and apply pressure to stop any bleeding.
- He or she will cover the incision with a dressing. No sutures are needed.
- The IV line will be removed.
You will most likely remain in the hospital overnight for observation and pain management. You may experience intense abdominal cramping and pain. Your pain will be controlled with a narcotic while you are in the hospital. You should be able to return home the day after the procedure.
The interventional radiologist who performs the embolization will discuss the results of the procedure with you as well as any special instructions to follow after you return home. He or she will also coordinate follow-up care with your primary care physician or gynecologist.
After you return home, you may feel other symptoms, including:
- Pelvic cramps for several days
- Mild nausea
- Low-grade fever
Your doctor will prescribe medicine for pain and fever.
Recovering from uterine fibroid embolization takes much less time than recovering from a hysterectomy. Most women feel back to normal within one or two weeks.
You may notice a reduction in menstrual bleeding after embolization, especially with the first cycle after your procedure. Over time, menstrual bleeding should stabilize to a level that is much less than before the procedure. You may miss a cycle or two or, rarely, stop having periods.
Within two to three weeks after embolization, you should feel relief from other symptoms such as:
- Pelvic pan and pressure
- Frequent urination
As the fibroids continue to shrink, your symptoms will continue to disappear.
You can expect to see your doctor within three weeks after an embolization procedure. The doctor will check to make sure you are recovering and feeling well.
The doctor will schedule MRI or ultrasound imaging if there are any issues after the procedure. The physician can compare the original imaging to the follow-up imaging if necessary. However, most women do not need to have any follow-up imaging.
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