UFE Treatment in Pittsburgh, PA
Once you and your doctors(s) have determined that Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) is the right fibroid treatment option for you, here are some of the things you’ll need to know before, during, and after treatment.
BEFORE TREATMENT | UFE TREATMENT | AFTER TREATMENT
Your interventional radiologist (IR) will explain to you in detail all of the pre-procedure tests prescribed. During your consultation, 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 will decide what type of sedation is best for you. Most doctors use conscious sedation, which means you will be awake but groggy during the procedure.
UFE is performed as an outpatient fibroid treatment procedure in our clinic and requires a 4-hour stay. After you arrive at the clinic, 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. Once you feel groggy or sleepy, you will be moved to the radiology suite, where the fibroid treatment will be performed.
Uterine Fibroid Embolization Treatment
The uterine fibroid embolization procedure begins with a tiny incision in the femoral artery. This incision provides the IR with access to the femoral artery in the upper thigh. Using specialized X-ray equipment, the IR passes a catheter (small tube) into the femoral artery to the uterine artery and guides it near the location of the fibroid tumor. When the IR has reached the location of the fibroids, embolic material (small spheres) are injected through the catheter and into the blood flow leading to the uterine fibroid tumors.
The embolic material is designed to block the vessels around the fibroid, depriving it of the blood and oxygen it needs to grow. The blood and oxygen deprivation results in fibroids shrinking. The embolic material remains permanently in the blood vessels 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 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.
Most women experience some degree of abdominal pain or cramping, similar to menstrual cramps, shortly after treatment. Your doctor will decide what medications you will need to keep you comfortable. Generally patients receive medications for pain management. Some patients experience nausea related to these medications, which can be adjusted accordingly. You will remain in an observation unit up to 4 hours, depending upon the decision of your physician.
Some patients may experience post-embolization syndrome following treatment, described as having flu-like symptoms such as a low grade fever, discomfort or malaise, 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 as ready for discharge, you will receive discharge instructions. These instructions include information on post uterine fibroid treatment care regarding medications to keep you comfortable as necessary. They may also include information on when you can expect to return to normal activities, as well as all phone numbers for whom to call if you have questions. You may continue to experience 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 within 7 days.
Finally, your IR will schedule your post-procedure appointments to check your recovery. Typical timeframes for these appointments are 2 weeks post procedure and then 3 months post procedure.
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