Interventional Radiology Procedure Highlight: What Is Uterine Fibroid Embolization?

interventional radiology, interventional radiology procedure, uterine fibroid embolization, what is uterine fibroid embolization, how does UFE work, uterine fibroid treatment, treating uterine fibroids, symptoms of uterine fibroids, BICRAD, BICRAD radiology

If you have been diagnosed with uterine fibroids, you have different treatment options. Traditional treatment usually involved open surgery; however, with the use of interventional radiology, less invasive treatment options for patients with uterine fibroids have become available. Uterine fibroid embolization is an innovative interventional radiology procedure that gives patients a minimally invasive alternative option for the treatment of their uterine fibroids. Here’s everything you need to know about the procedure.

What Is Interventional Radiology?

Interventional radiology is a branch of radiology that employs image guidance to provide targeted therapy and treatment. Imaging techniques that can be used include X-ray fluoroscopy, ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). These imaging procedures are used to guide physicians during the surgical process, providing them with a clearer picture and allowing for less invasive treatment compared to other surgical methods. Interventional radiology is innovating the way doctors treat a variety of ailments, and changing the game for many patients.

What Are Uterine Fibroids?

Uterine fibroids are noncancerous masses that appear on the uterus. Many times, women are not aware that they even have uterine fibroids, since they don’t always present symptoms and can disappear with time. Fibroids range in size from very small to large growths, and for patients with more severe cases the condition can be excruciating.

Symptoms of Uterine Fibroids

As mentioned, many women who have fibroids don't present symptoms. In cases where uterine fibroids do show symptoms, the most common symptoms include:

  • Heavy menstrual bleeding

  • Menstrual periods lasting more than a week

  • Pelvic pressure or pain

  • Frequent urination

  • Difficulty emptying the bladder

  • Constipation

  • Backache or leg pains

Uterine Fibroid Treatment

For women without signs or symptoms, uterine fibroids can often go away on their own. For those who are experiencing discomfort or symptoms, there are a variety of treatment options ranging from medication to minimally invasive surgical options to more traditional open surgery.

What Is Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE)?

Uterine fibroid embolization refers to a minimally invasive procedure used to treat uterine fibroids. The procedure uses fluoroscopy to guide the process of placing embolic agents in the patient’s uterus and fibroids, which blocks blood flow to the fibroids and works to shrink them. The procedure has a very high success rate with women experiencing fibroids in their uterus.

If you are suffering from symptoms associated with uterine fibroids, speak with your doctor to discuss your treatment options. With the recent advancements in interventional radiology and imaging technology as a whole, conditions like uterine fibroids that were once incredibly difficult to treat are now more treatable than ever. 

If you’re in the Bay area and considering getting a UFE, BICRAD has several Board Certified radiologists that specialize in interventional radiology and can get you the treatment you need. Schedule an appointment at a location near you!