Uterine Fibroids and Their Symptoms
Uterine fibroids are benign, non-cancerous growths in or on the walls of the uterus, or womb, ranging in size from less than an inch to more than six inches in diameter. African-American women and those with a family history are more likely to develop fibroids. Most fibroids are asymptomatic, and are only discovered when a woman has a routine pelvic examination.
Know the Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore
- Heavy, prolonged menstrual periods, sometimes with clots
- Anemia (fatigue due to low red blood count)
- Pain or pressure between the hip bones or in the back of the legs
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Urinary frequency
- Constipation or bloating
- An enlarged belly
Treating Uterine Fibroids Without Surgery
Windsong’s Interventional and Vascular Services team offers a non-surgical alternative to hysterectomy with its minimally invasive uterine fibroid procedure that allows patients to return home the same day. The uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) procedure is performed using imaging techniques to see inside the body and treat without surgery.
Dr. Dana Dunleavy leads Windsong’s Interventional and Vascular Services team which provides this safe medical procedure which is less invasive, less expensive and has a shorter recovery time. As a fellowship trained Interventional Radiologist from Johns Hopkins, Dr. Dunleavy focuses his practice on non-surgical treatment options that relieve pain. He has achieved a Certificate of Added Qualifications (CAQ) in Vascular and Interventional Radiology and the clinic maintains accreditation with the American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities (AAAASF) to provide patients with minimally invasive procedures in an outpatient setting.
At Windsong, during the UFE procedure, you are given sedation medication but remain awake. A catheter is inserted into your upper thigh or into your wrist to access your arteries. X-ray imaging guides the catheter to your right or left uterine artery. Tiny round beads—each measuring the size of a grain of sand— are injected into the catheter and into your fibroid-feeding vessels. These tiny beads block the blood flow to the fibroids, causing the fibroids to shrink, alleviating symptoms. The embolization process is then repeated in your other uterine artery to completely block the blood flow to your fibroids. The particles are biocompatible and remain at the fibroid site.
Fibroids After Embolization
After UFE, the fibroids shrink, scar and retract into the wall of the uterus. Some women may temporarily experience vaginal discharge, including expelled fibroid tissue.
Are You a Candidate
Patients who are an ideal candidate for UFE include women who:
- Have symptomatic fibroids
- Do not intend to get pregnant in the future
- Want to keep their uterus
- Do not want surgery
- Want a faster recovery time
- May not be a good candidate for surgery
UFE and Pregnancy
You should not have this procedure if you are pregnant. The effects of UFE on the ability to beco mepregnant and carry a fetus to term, and on the development of the fetus, have not been determined.
While women can become pregnant after uterine fibroid embolization and have successful pregnancies, no scientific studies have fully established the safety of UFE on fertility and pregnancy.
Risks Associated with UFE
UFE is a safe procedure for treating symptomatic fibroids with minimal risk. Risk factors and complications associated with UFE are:
- Transient amenorrhea (temporary absence of menstrual period)
- Short-term allergic reaction/rash
- Vaginal discharge/infection
- Mis-targeted embolization (when the embolic reaches healthy tissue)
- Possible fibroid passage
- Post-embolization syndrome, which caninclude low-grade fever, pain, fatigue, nauseaand vomiting.
You should talk with your doctor about the risks associated with UFE. Visit ask4ufe.com/questions-for-
your-doctor to help get the conversation going.
Deciding on UFE
Your gynecologist or primary care physician can provide a referral to an interventional radiologist who can help you decide if UFE , based on your medical history and the size and location of your fibroids. If you do not currently have a referring gynecologist, you can directly contact Windsong Interventional and Vascular Services at 716.929.9484 to schedule a UFE consultation.
Health Insurance Coverage for UFE
Most insurance companies cover UFE as a treatment for symptomatic fibroids.
Visit ask4ufe.com/what-is-ufe/ to watch a video on UFE
“A hysterectomy should not be a first choice unless it’s medically necessary. UFE is minimally invasive and I only needed one procedure. Above all, it gave me back my life.”