Uterine Fibroid Embolization

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The interventional radiology specialists at UT Southwestern Medical Center provide highly effective embolization treatment to shrink uterine fibroids and help relieve symptoms.

Specialized Care for Uterine Fibroids

Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths on the uterus. They aren’t associated with an increased risk of uterine cancer and almost never develop into cancer. 

Millions of American women have uterine fibroids. Most cause no symptoms, but about a quarter of women with fibroids have heavy menstrual bleeding, pain, and other symptoms. 

UT Southwestern’s interventional radiologists specialize in performing uterine fibroid embolizations and treatment of the areas of the body in which the fibroids occur. In addition, we have advanced fellowship training in interventional radiology and extensive real-world experience. 

Our team of interventional radiologists and physician assistants coordinates each patient’s complete care – from imaging evaluation to post-procedure follow-up – maintaining a high level of communication throughout the process. 

We also coordinate closely with experts from across the UT Southwestern community when necessary.

Treatment for Uterine Fibroids

Uterine fibroids don’t generally require treatment, but if they cause symptoms, they can be shrunk through a process called embolization or removed via surgery.

Uterine fibroid embolization is a minimally invasive procedure that shrinks the fibroid.

In this procedure, interventional radiologists feed a catheter through an artery to the uterus. They then pass tiny particles through the catheter into uterine blood vessels. 

Because the fibroid tumors take up most of the blood flow in the uterus, these particles are drawn to the fibroids. The particles wedge into the blood vessels, blocking blood flow to the fibroids, which then shrink by about 40 to 60 percent. Doctors recommend magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) as a pre-screening tool to show the exact location of the fibroids and details about any other conditions that might be causing symptoms. 

UT Southwestern doctors are also testing a medication that can reduce the size of fibroids. 

Preparing for Uterine Fibroid Embolization

These procedures are performed with conscious sedation, a process in which the patient is given medication to feel sleepy but is not unconscious. Conscious sedation requires fasting for eight hours before the procedure. Most medications can be taken the morning of the procedure, except those that affect blood clotting, such as aspirin, Plavix, Lovenox, or Coumadin. 

Patients who are taking one of these medications need to stop taking it or be switched to another medicine for a few days before the procedure. Medication management will be coordinated by our team, if necessary.

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