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Uterine Fibroid Embolization

Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE), also known as Uterine Artery Embolization (UAE) is a less invasive procedure for treatment of uterine fibroids performed by an Interventional Radiologist (IR), a doctor who uses X-rays and other imaging techniques to see inside the body and treat conditions without surgery.

The process typically lasts less than two hours and patients usually have to stay up to 23 hours after the procedure is complete. Patients usually return to work in an average of 11 days. UFE blocks the blood supply to fibroids, causing them to shrink. It is clinically proven to reduce the major symptoms of fibroids, including pain, excessive and prolonged bleeding, and frequent urination.

Without blood supply, the fibroids shrink, relieving symptoms in 90 percent of women.

The interventional radiologists at the University of Miami Health System are experts in this procedure.

How effective is UFE?

  • On average, 85-90 percent of women who have had the procedure experience significant or total relief of heavy bleeding, pain and/or bulk-related symptoms.
  • The procedure is effective for multiple fibroids and large fibroids.
  • Recurrence of treated fibroids is very rare. Short and mid-term data show UFE to be very effective with a very low rate of recurrence. Long-term (10-year) data are not yet available, but in one study in which patients were followed for six years, no fibroid that had been embolized regrew.

UFE and Fertility

If you decide on uterine artery embolization, becoming pregnant in the future can be extremely difficult.

While uterine artery embolization is an effective treatment for uterine fibroids, the effects that it has on the ability to become pregnant, on the development of the fetus, and the ability to carry the fetus to term have not been determined. There are some reports of women becoming pregnant after the uterine artery embolization procedure and having successful pregnancies. However, there is no conclusive data or scientific results that establish the safety of uterine fibroid embolization on fertility and pregnancy. Therefore, before choosing this fibroid treatment, it is very important that you understand the potential inability to conceive in the future.

Less than two percent of patients have entered menopause as a result of UFE. This is more likely to occur if the woman is in her mid-forties or older and is already nearing menopause.

Why Choose UHealth?

Expert care from highly trained interventional radiologists. Our interventional radiologists and radiology specialists are experts in a variety of minimally invasive procedures — everything from treatments to clear blocked blood vessels to advanced cancer therapies like NanoKnife®.

Leading-edge imaging care in South Florida. Our doctors are also researchers discovering new ways to improve diagnosis and treatment. That means you can get some of today’s most promising advancements through clinical trials. You benefit from the latest developments that are fast-tracked from the lab to the bedside.

Questions? We're here to help.

Our appointment specialists are ready to help you find what you need. Contact us today.

What are Uterine Fibroids?


Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths that develop in the walls of the uterus. They can cause heavy menstrual bleeding and pain.


Who is a Candidate?


If you need treatment for fibroid symptoms but want to avoid surgery, UFE may be right for you. Your gynecologist can provide a referral to an interventional radiologist who can help you decide based on your medical history and the size and location of your fibroids. Patients who are ideal for UFE include women who have symptomatic fibroids, and:

  • Do not intend to get pregnant in the future
  • Want to keep their uterus
  • Do not want surgery
  • Want an overnight or outpatient hospital stay
  • May not be good candidates for surgery

 


What to Expect


Before treatment

Your Interventional Radiologist (IR) will explain to you in detail all of the pre-procedure tests prescribed. Also during your consult, you should let your doctor know if you are allergic to any medications, shellfish, iodine, contrast agents, or gelatin to minimize the risk of a reaction as a result of the fibroid treatment procedure. You and your doctor also should decide what type of sedation will work best for you. Most doctors use conscious sedation, which means you will be awake during the procedure but you will feel groggy.

UFE is performed as an outpatient fibroid treatment procedure in a hospital and will typically require a stay up to 23 hours. After you arrive at the hospital, you will be prepped for the procedure by the Radiology staff. This includes initiating the sedation and other medication discussed during your consult. Other medications to help manage post-procedure effects may also be administered at this time. It is important to discuss with your IR which medications will be used in the management of your post-procedure care.

UFE treatment

UFE is minimally invasive, requiring only a small nick in the skin. During UFE, you are given sedation medication but remain awake. The IR inserts a thin tube into an artery at the top of your thigh, then uses X-ray imaging to guide the tube to the uterine artery. When the catheter has reached the location of the fibroids, embolic material (Microspheres) are injected through the catheter. They block blood flow, causing the fibroids to shrink. Microspheres remain permanently at the fibroid site. The catheter is then moved to the other side of the uterus, usually using the same incision in the thigh. Once the IR has completed embolization of the uterine artery on both sides, the catheter is gently removed and the IR places finger pressure over the small incision in your thigh. After holding the puncture site for a few minutes to help stop any bleeding, the IR may close the incision using a vascular closure device.

After UFE treatment

After the procedure, you may experience some discomfort such as abdominal cramping or pain. You and your doctor will determine what medications may be needed to keep you comfortable. The post-procedure care that you receive will be administered by skilled nurses and your IR who will consult with your OB-GYN. Post procedure appointments will need to be scheduled, and since these appointments vary, be sure to ask your IR when they need to be scheduled.

Some patients may experience “post-embolization syndrome” following the uterine fibroid treatment, which is described as having flu-like symptoms, such as a low grade fever, malaise (a vague feeling of discomfort), and mild nausea. Post-embolization syndrome can occur within a few hours or up to a few days after uterine fibroid embolization.

Once your IR has evaluated you and has decided you are ready for discharge, you will receive discharge instructions from your doctor. These instructions include information on post uterine fibroid treatment care regarding medications you will need to take to keep you comfortable based on how you are feeling. They may also include information on when you can expect to begin returning to normal activities, as well as all phone numbers for whom to call if you have questions. You may continue to experience some cramping, similar to menstrual period cramping, that lasts a few days after the procedure. Most women are able to return to light activity within a few days of the uterine fibroid embolization treatment and are usually back to work and normal activity on average, within 11 days.

Finally, your IR will schedule your post-procedure appointments to check your recovery. Typical timeframes for these appointments are one week post-procedure, and three months post-procedure. Since follow up appointments do vary, be sure to ask when these appointments should be scheduled.

Accepted Insurances

Note: Health plans that are currently contracted with UHealth are listed below. However, please check with your insurance provider to verify that UHealth is part of your provider network.

  • Aetna WC
  • Aetna Affiliates/Signature Adm (ASA)
  • Aetna Behavioral Health
  • Aetna Elect Choice (EPO)
  • Aetna Florida Healthy Kids
  • Aetna HMO
  • Aetna Medicaid HMO
  • Aetna Medicare HMO
  • Aetna Medicare PPO
  • Aetna POS
  • Aetna PPO
  • Aetna UM Employee HMO 1
  • Aetna UM Employee HMO 2
  • Aetna UM Employee POS HRA
  • Aetna/Coventry Institutes of Excellence (IOE)
  • Amerigroup Florida Healthy Kids
  • Amerigroup Medicaid HMO
  • Argus Vision
  • AvMed Choice
  • AvMed HMO/POS
  • AvMed MDC and JHS Groups
  • AvMed Medicare HMO
  • AXIS
  • BCBS Blue Options Network Blue PPO
  • BCBS BlueCare HealthOptions HMO
  • BCBS BlueChoice PPC/PPO
  • BCBS Miami Dade Blue PPO Limited Benefits Plan
  • BCBS of Florida (All products except "SELECT" Plans)
  • BCBS of Florida (Commercial plans exclude HIX Select)
  • BCBS Traditional PHS/PPO
  • Beacon Health (ValueOption)
  • Beech Street PPO
  • Broward Health Medical Center
  • CarePlus Medicare HMO
  • Catholic Hospice
  • CCP/CMS Title XIX (Medicaid Enrolled in South Florida)
  • CCP/CMS Title XXI (Non Medicaid Enrolled in South Florida)
  • CCP/MMA (Broward County residents)
  • Charlotte County Sheriffs Office PPO
  • Cigna Affiliates
  • Cigna Behavioral Health
  • Cigna Dental HMO/PPO
  • Cigna EPO
  • Cigna HMO
  • Cigna Life Source (Intracorp is part of Cigna Lifesource)
  • Cigna MDCPS Jackson Sr. High
  • Cigna POS
  • Cigna PPO
  • Cigna Shared Administration
  • Clear Health Alliance SNP Medicaid HMO
  • Concordia Behavioral Health
  • CorVel WC
  • Coventry First Health WC
  • Coventry Health Care of Florida (HIP) HMO/POS
  • Coventry Health Care of Florida (HIP) PPO
  • Coventry Health Plan of Florida (Foundation) HMO
  • Coventry Health Plan of Florida (Foundation) POS
  • Coventry National PPO
  • Coventry Summit Medicare HMO
  • Coventry Vista Medicare HMO
  • Coventry First Health PPO
  • Delta Dental PPO
  • DentaQuest (ADI)
  • DIKLA
  • Dimension WC
  • Dimension Plus PPO
  • Doctor's Healthcare Plan
  • EHN PPO
  • EQUIAN (Health Systems International)
  • Europe Assistance/Global Corporate Solutions (Care Management Network)
  • eyeQuest
  • FCCI WC
  • Florida Community Care (FCC)
  • Florida Healthcare Plan (Affiliate of BCBSFL)
  • Florida PACE (FPC)
  • Freedom Health Medicaid HMO
  • Freedom Health Medicare HMO
  • Gallagher Bassett WC (MDCPS & FCSRMC)
  • Global Excel Mgt PPO
  • Great West (Cigna) HMO/POS
  • Guardian Life PPO
  • HAA Preferred Partners
  • Health First Health HMO/POS
  • Health First Health Medicare HMO
  • Health First Health PPO
  • Health Net Veterans Choice HMO
  • Heritage Summit Healthcare WC
  • Humana Behavioral Health (LifeSynch)
  • Humana Dental/CompBenefits/OHS
  • Humana EPO
  • Humana HMO
  • Humana Medicaid HMO
  • Humana Medicare HMO
  • Humana National Transplant
  • Humana PPO
  • Humana Premier
  • iCare Health Solutions
  • Interlink Health Services
  • International Kids Fund (IKF)
  • League Medical Concepts Federal Inmates
  • Life Trac
  • Magellan Behavioral Health
  • Magellan Complete Care SNP Medicaid HMO
  • MDAbroad
  • Medica Medicare HMO
  • Medical Development In't (MDI)-Federal Inmates
  • Medicus
  • Metlife Dental PPO
  • MHNet Behavioral Network (MHNet)
  • Molina
  • Molina Market Place
  • Molina Medicaid HMO
  • Molina Medicare HMO
  • Morgan White International
  • MultiPlan PPO
  • Naphcare (Federal Prisoners)
  • National Healthcare Solutions Inc.
  • Neighborhood HealthPlan HMO/POS
  • Neighborhood HealthPlan PPO
  • North Broward Hospital District PPO
  • Olympus Managed Healthcare
  • Optum
  • Positive Healthcare SNP Medicaid HMO
  • Positive Healthcare SNP Medicare HMO
  • Prestige Health Choice Medicaid HMO
  • Prime Health Services WC
  • Quality Health Management
  • Religious Order of Jehovah's Witnesses PPO
  • Rockport Healthcare Group WC
  • Royal Caribbean Cruises PPO
  • Sanus Health Corporation
  • Seasons Hospice
  • Simply Healthcare Medicaid HMO
  • Solstice Dental HMO/PPO
  • Start Healthcare Network
  • Sunshine
  • Sunshine AMBETTER
  • Sunshine Healthy Kids HMO
  • Sunshine Medicaid HMO
  • Sunshine Medicare HMO
  • Tricare South Prime HMO
  • Tricare South Standard PPO
  • United Behavioral Health (UBH)
  • UnitedHealthcare Affiliates
  • UnitedHealthcare Healthy Kids HMO
  • UnitedHealthcare HMO/POS
  • UnitedHealthcare Medicaid HMO
  • UnitedHealthcare Medicare Nursing Home Plan
  • UnitedHealthcare PPO
  • University of Miami Athletic Dept PPO
  • VUMI
  • Wellcare/Staywell Healthy Kids HMO
  • Wellcare/Staywell Medicaid HMO
  • Wexford Health State Inmates
  • Worldwide Managed Care