It can cause pain, pressure, and heavy bleeding, doctors say about one-third of women will develop uterine fibroids. “Many women have fibroids and don’t know they have them and have no symptoms, but other women can have symptoms and sometimes those symptoms can be quite significant,” explained Dr. David Johnson, an interventional radiologist with Lee Health.
Women commonly develop fibroids in their 30’s and 40’s, but the cause is unknown. “I would say a woman who has symptoms from her fibroids that are affecting her quality of life, a uterine artery embolization would be an excellent option for her to consider,” said Dr. Johnson.
A uterine artery embolization is a minimally invasive procedure that shrinks the fibroids, relieving the patient of her symptoms over time. “It’s a procedure that we go through the arteries, where we actually go through the arteries with a small tube called a catheter and feed that catheter to the arteries supplying the uterus. Once we’re inside those arteries we then inject little tiny particles into the arteries to shut the blood flow down to the fibroids,” explained Dr. Johnson.
The one-time procedure takes about two hours. The patient can go home the next day and return to normal activities the following week. “They are awake. That’s actually one of the advantages is it doesn’t require general anesthesia. We give numbing medicine in the skin, and we also give sedation medication in IV during the procedure,” he said.
About 80 percent of women experience symptomatic relief after the procedure. “It’s not an instantaneous cure, but over time the body will absorb the fibroid tissue, and the uterus will begin to shrink, and the symptoms will improve,” said Dr. Johnson.
A uterine artery embolization offers a minimally invasive alternative to help alleviate painful symptoms.
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