Ask Dr. Shah: Fibroids and the UFE
Dr. Shrenik Shah, a native of Boston and a graduate of the University of Chicago and Albany Medical College, is a highly accomplished medical professional specializing in Vascular & Interventional Radiology. With over a decade of experience, Dr. Shah is board-certified by the American Board of Radiology in Diagnostic Radiology. He has dedicated his career to providing exceptional care and innovative treatment options to patients. Dr. Shah’s expertise lies in performing endovascular artery and vein procedures, with a specific focus on uterine fibroid embolization and pelvic congestion syndrome. Known for his compassionate approach and commitment to patient well-being, Dr. Shah is a trusted provider at Preferred Vascular Group, where he has been offering his services since 2018.
What is uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) and how does it work?
Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) is a nonsurgical, minimally-invasive procedure that blocks the blood supply to fibroids, causing them to shrink. It is an alternative to hysterectomy for women who do not want surgery but still want to control their symptoms of fibroids. The procedure involves inserting a catheter into the body through an incision in the groin or wrist and using an x-ray machine to guide the catheter into the uterus. Tiny particles made of materials like polyvinyl alcohol sponge fibers or microspheres are injected into the fibroids, blocking off blood flow and causing the fibroids to wither away over time.
How is the number, size, and location of fibroids identified before the UFE procedure?
The interventional radiologist uses imaging to identify the number, size, and location of the fibroids. This is done using a contrast material injected into the body through a needle. The contrast material helps make certain things visible to the ultrasound transducer in real time.
What materials are used to block off the blood flow to the fibroids during UFE?
The end of the catheter is placed in or near the fibroid, and a substance called embolization material is injected into it. These particles are made up of materials like polyvinyl alcohol sponge (PVA) fibers or microspheres (tiny beads). They cause tiny clots to form within the arteries that feed oxygen-rich blood to the fibroids, preventing nutrients from reaching them and causing them to shrink over time.
How long does the UFE procedure usually take, and when can I go home?
The uterine fibroid embolization procedure itself usually takes about 30 minutes to complete. Since it does not involve removing any tissue, you should be able to go home shortly after a brief observation period. You may be asked to rest for the remainder of the day but can generally resume your activities within a few days, including driving and working (if not too strenuous).
What can I expect after undergoing UFE?
After UFE, it is normal to experience cramping and spotting for a few days. The downtime is minimal compared to myomectomy or hysterectomy. For most women, heavy bleeding ends immediately or is significantly decreased within three months of the procedure.
Who is a candidate for UFE?
Women who cannot or do not want to undergo major surgery may be candidates for UFE. It is particularly suitable for women who may want to become pregnant in the future, as it maintains that possibility. Some women choose UFE when a faster return to work or other activities is desired, as the recovery time is shorter compared to other surgical options.
Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) is a minimally-invasive procedure that blocks the blood supply to fibroids, causing them to shrink. During the procedure, tiny particles made of materials like polyvinyl alcohol sponge fibers or microspheres are injected into the fibroids to cut off their blood flow. The procedure takes about 30 minutes, and patients can usually go home shortly after. Recovery time is minimal, with most women experiencing a reduction in heavy bleeding within three months. UFE is a suitable option for women who cannot or do not want major surgery and may want to preserve the possibility of future pregnancies.
We have been providing the Uterine Fibroid Embolization procedure (UFE) for women in Georgia for years. Reach out to us today for a consultation to see if the UFE is right for you.