Uterine Artery Embolization (UAE)
UAE is a specialized
procedure that is performed to shrink fibroids, which are benign
(non-cancerous) tumors in the uterine wall. Also known as myomas or
leiomyomas, fibroids are frequently painful and can cause heavy menstrual
If the fibroids are not causing symptoms, they do not
need treatment. However, fibroids that are causing symptoms can be treated
in several ways, including the traditional methods of hormone treatment or
surgery. RAS patients now may take advantage of a new non-surgical
procedure called uterine artery embolization (UAE).
With UAE, an
interventional radiologist guides a small tube into the artery that
supplies the fibroid and uses it to inject tiny beads to block the flow of
blood to this area. When the blood supply is blocked, the fibroid loses
its supply of oxygen and nutrients, causing it to shrink. That shrinkage
relieves the symptoms for most patients.
Patient Information for Uterine
Artery Embolization (UAE)What to expect
UAE procedure is performed in a hospital angiography suite by an
interventional radiologist, a doctor with specialized medical training.
You will lie on a small, movable table that has an X-ray machine below it
and an X-ray camera mounted above it. The doctor uses this camera to
monitor the catheter (the small tube) as it proceeds into the artery
supplying the fibroid.
Because UAE is not painful, it does not
require general anesthesia. Instead, it is performed under conscious
sedation, which means that you will be drowsy but not sleeping.
procedure, which takes about 45 minutes, does not require stitches and
does not produce visible scarring.Patient preparation
be asked to fast for several hours before the procedure, You may take most
of your usual medications as prescribed—with the exception of any
blood-thinning medications, including aspirin and ibuprofen. You should
abstain from taking such blood-thinning drugs for minimum of five days
before your procedure. The week before your appointment, we will order a
blood test.Side effects and complications
UAE is a minimally invasive procedure and is not painful, you may
experience some discomfort, including cramps, during the recovery period.
Patients typically experience pelvic cramps for several days after uterine
artery embolization, and possibly mild nausea and low-grade fever as well.
The cramps are most severe during the first 24 hours after the procedure,
but diminish rapidly during the next several days.Follow-up
You may spend one night in the hospital for pain
management. When you leave the hospital the following day, you will be
given a prescription for oral pain medication.
Most patients are
able to return to their normal activities within 10 days after UAE, and
recover fully from the effects of the procedure within about two weeks.
Shrinkage of the fibroids and relief of the pain and pressure they caused
usually occurs over a period of two to three months. The heavy bleeding
that patients may have chronically experienced before undergoing UAE
commonly diminishes during the first menstrual cycle following the