Are you battling uterine fibroids? We offer uterine fibroid embolization as a minimally invasive solution for our patients. This treatment is also known as UFE, and our highly experienced team at North Texas Fibroids in Cedar Hill, Dallas, and Flower Mound, TX, are ready to help you better understand this effective treatment option.
What Is Uterine Fibroid Embolization?
Understanding the Treatment Process
An IR, or Interventional Radiologist, has specific training for minimally invasive treatments. A uterine fibroid embolization starts with a small incision to your femoral artery. The artery will be used as a pathway so the IR can carefully guide a small catheter up to the fibroid. This will be done with the help of imaging equipment.
Once we identify and reach the blood supply feeding your fibroid, we will be able to inject an embolic material that will stop the fibroid’s blood supply. These tiny spheres will safely stay in place and block off blood, oxygen, and nutrients from the fibroid. Over time, the fibroid will continue to shrivel up and die.
After Your Treatment
A single incision can be used to treat both sides of your uterus in one appointment. Once the fibroids have been treated, the incision will most likely be closed with a vascular closure device.
Throughout your treatment process, we are here to watch over you and answer any questions and concerns you have. Our care will continue as you head home with specific discharge instructions so you know what to expect. As your welfare is our top priority, we ask that our patients come back in a week, and then three months after treatment. That way we can meet with you, see how you’re doing, and continue to answer your questions.
Why Receive UFE Treatment?
Some patients suffer from fibroid symptoms that get in the way of their work, social life, and hobbies. If uterine fibroids are holding you back in life, receiving treatment can offer relief and freedom from these painful symptoms.
Heavy menstrual cycles are often written off as normal, and just a part of life. That said, patients with abnormally heavy bleeding shouldn’t have to just tough it out, especially if your period is making you feel weak and anemic. Many patients don’t know that passing clots the size of a quarter or larger is considered heavy bleeding, as is bleeding for longer than seven days.
Uterine fibroids can contribute to heavy bleeding. If we determine that your fibroids could be a part of your menstrual discomfort, treating them can help your cycle be more balanced and manageable.
Urinary incontinence can be mild, or severe enough to cause significant anxiety in social situations. Some patients don’t mind having to urinate regularly, even if it’s a bit annoying. However, urinary incontinence can start to affect a person’s ability to get a good night’s sleep, or to laugh in social situations without stressing about it.
If you find yourself rushing to the restroom in the middle of the night, you may want to look into uterine fibroids. As these fibroids grow, they can put pressure on your bladder or your rectum. This can contribute to both urinary issues as well as constipation.
Another treatment for uterine fibroids is to have the uterus removed altogether. During a hysterectomy, your ovaries will likely be kept in place to avoid early menopause. This surgery can be carried out vaginally, laparoscopically, or traditionally. It will almost always require a hospital stay.
Having your uterus removed is a big step that not everyone is ready for. UFE allows patients to keep their uterus intact and avoid more invasive surgery. UFE also tends to be much easier on the body in general.
When patients struggle with any sort of uterine pain, there may be moments where they feel ready just to have the entire uterus removed so they can be done with it. These same patients may be surprised at how emotional losing their uterus can be, even when they aren’t planning to become pregnant.
For some patients, losing their uterus can feel like losing an important part of themselves. While a hysterectomy may be necessary in some cases, UFE can help many patients keep their uterus so they can avoid the emotional adjustment of losing it.
Uterine fibroids can make sex painful. As intimacy is an important way for many patients to bond with their significant other, a condition that makes sex painful can be very distressing. Depending on where the fibroid is located and how large it is, changing positions may be helpful. In other cases, patients struggle to find a way to avoid pain during intimacy and may avoid sex altogether.
In addition to pain, fibroids can also contribute to bleeding after sex. If you have uterine fibroids and struggle with pain during sex, this treatment may be able to help.
Back or Leg Pain
Many people think that uterine fibroids would only cause discomfort in the pelvic area, but that isn’t always the case. Depending on where the fibroid is situated, it can put pressure on the muscles and nerves along your back. This can contribute to lower back or leg pain.
If you have lower back or leg pain that you haven’t been able to find answers for, it may be worthwhile to look into uterine fibroids.
FAQ About Uterine Fibroid Embolization
1. How Quick Is This Treatment?
This treatment can usually be completed within an hour, making it fairly easy for patients to fit into their busy schedules.
2. What Are Fibroids?
Uterine fibroids are a kind of tumor. They are almost always benign, meaning non-cancerous. In some rare cases, if you have uterine fibroids that are growing rapidly after menopause, ruling cancer out may be a good idea.
That said, fibroids are very common. Other than possible painful symptoms, fibroids are not always harmful. If you have fibroids, it’s important to keep track of them and make sure their size and location stay within safe margins.
3. What Causes Uterine Fibroids?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a definitive answer to this question yet. We do know that patients in their childbearing years tend to be more likely to develop uterine fibroids. Children who haven’t reached puberty are unlikely to have uterine fibroids. Post-menopausal women, perhaps due to a reduction in estrogen, are also less likely to suffer from uterine fibroids.
4. Do Uterine Fibroids Always Need Treatment?
Many fibroids are small enough that they don’t require treatment. These fibroids can be monitored to track potential growth so you can make the call about if and when you want to have them addressed.
Other fibroids can become quite large. There have been fibroids that have grown as big as a watermelon. If you compare that to the size your uterus should be, which is the size of a pear, you can see how a fibroid that big would likely cause some intense discomfort. Many fibroids grow within the uterus, but they can also develop within or on the outer wall of the uterus.
5. How Can I Tell if I Have Fibroids?
Some fibroids aren’t symptomatic, while others can cause a range of painful sensations. You may feel a sharp, stabbing pain when pressure is put over the fibroid. You may feel a dull ache or a “heaviness” in the area surrounding the fibroid.
Ultimately, it’s important not to only rely on self-diagnosis. An official diagnosis will be able not only to give you better answers, but can also be used as a monitoring tool to watch the fibroid’s growth and determine the best course of action.
6. How Do I Get Diagnosed?
An official diagnosis is the first step towards finding the right treatment. Once you have a diagnosis, our team will be able to help you determine a treatment plan that’s a good fit for you. Some patients may have their uterine fibroids discovered during a routine pelvic exam, but that isn’t always enough to provide a diagnosis.
Some helpful diagnostic tools that can be used to discover uterine fibroids can include the following:
- CT Scan
7. Am I a Good Candidate for Treatment?
The first step to this treatment is getting you in for a consultation. We’ll go over your health history and may run some tests to make sure uterine fibroid embolization is the right choice for you. Once we determine that UFE has the best chance possible of fitting your needs, we’ll plan your treatment.
Reach Out for That Consultation
We know it’s crucial that a patient feels comfortable about their treatment options. We want to give you the information you need to feel empowered and confident. If you have further questions, reach out to us at North Texas Fibroids in Dallas TX, Cedar Hill TX, and Flower Mound, TX, today to get your consultation set up.