Uterine artery embolisation

What Is Uterine Artery Embolisation?

Uterine artery embolisation is a minimally invasive treatment for uterine fibroids. Fibroids are non-cancerous growths in the uterus that are very common and can cause significant symptoms including heavy and painful periods.

What Is Uterine Artery Embolisation?

Uterine artery embolization (alternatively called Uterine Fibroid Embolization) is a minimally invasive treatment for symptoms caused by uterine fibroids that avoids surgery. It is a highly successful treatment for women with heavy or painful periods, pressure symptoms on the bladder or bowels as a result of uterine fibroids.

Uterine Fibroids Treatment is widely performed alternative to uterine fibroid removal surgery, and a procedure that has been performed since the 1990s. Interventional radiologists perform these procedures as they have specialist skills in treating conditions through the blood vessels.

Why I Might Need This Procedure

About a third to a half of women of childbearing age have fibroids. Not all the fibroids are diagnosed because they are too small. Fibroids can range in size from as small as a pea to as large as a small grapefruit.

Fibroids can cause: 

Heavy or Irregular menstrual bleeding. 

Heaviness/ Pain in the abdomen.

Pressure on the bladder causing frequent urination or the bowel leading to constipation/ bloating.

Infertility. 

Pain during sexual intercourse.

Benefits of Uterine Fibroid Embolisation

Minimally invasive alternative to surgery.

Excellent Outcomes for Women.

Safe.

Short procedure with a single night in hospital.

Rapid recovery to usual activities.

Preserves your uterus.

What are Uterine fibroids?

Fibroids are non cancerous growths in the uterus, ranging in size from a pea to a grapefruit. They are present in around 1 in 3 women of child-bearing age. They tend to grow until women reach menopause. Not all women with fibroids have significant symptoms, but in those who do it can be the cause of:

  • Heavy, painful or prolonged periods.
  • Fullness in your pelvis
  • Pressure on your bladder/ bowel causing problems with urination or bowel motions.
  • Pain during intercourse

How is it diagnosed?

Uterine fibroids are diagnosed by an ultrasound or MRI, which can also determine how many there are, how big they are and where they are located.

How are they treated?

Management in patients who have associated symptoms consists of:

  • Medicines to try and reduce heavy bleeding during periods or reduce the size of the fibroids. These are short lived and have linked side effects, with symptoms returning and fibroids going back to their original size when the medicine is stopped.
  • Surgery to remove individual fibroids if very few and they can be accessed without difficulty or surgery to remove the whole uterus (hysterectomy). This is associated with a slower recovery period (weeks) and complications.
  • Uterine artery embolisation, which is performed through a tiny access into an artery in your wrist. An interventional radiologist passes a fine catheter into the uterine artery and delivers small particles through this to block the blood supply to the fibroids. The procedure treats all the fibroids in one session by stopping their blood supply.
  • The uterus is not removed. Recovery is rapid, with only a single night in hospital and going back to usual activities within a week. Over 90% of women achieve the result they want, and avoid surgery.