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.
Treatment for Uterine Fibroids
Uterine fibroids don't generally require treatment, but they can be shrunk through a process called embolization or removed via surgery if they cause symptoms.
Uterine Fibroid Embolization
Uterine fibroid embolization is a minimally invasive procedure that shrinks the fibroid.
In this procedure, 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 about 40 to 60 percent.
The procedure requires an overnight hospital stay and about a week for recovery, but that's much less than the recovery time required for a hysterectomy. Most women go home the next day and are back at work in about a week. Doctors recommend an MRI as a pre-screening tool to show the exact location of the fibroids, as well as any other conditions that might be causing symptoms.
UT Southwestern doctors are also testing a medication that can reduce the size of fibroids.
How Do I Prepare For This Procedure?
Uterine fibroid embolization is performed with conscious sedation, a process in which you are given medication to make you sleepy but not unconscious. Conscious sedation requires that you not eat a meal for eight hours before the procedure.
Most medications can be taken the morning of the procedure except for medications that affect blood clotting (aspirin, Plavix, Lovenox, Coumadin, etc). If you are taking one of these medications, you may need to stop taking it or be switched to another medicine for a few days before the procedure. This will be coordinated by your doctor, if necessary.
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