Published: May 24, 2011
Updated: May 24, 2011
Learn about the recovery process, the benefits, and risks of uterine fibroid embolization (UFE).
The most common complaints following uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) are menstrual-like cramps and nausea. To help keep the pain under control, a patient-controlled anesthesia (PAC) pump is used to administer pain medication as needed.
In addition to the pain medication, anti-inflammatory and anti-nausea medications are given.
Over 90 percent of women are able to go home the day after the procedure.
After discharge, it is possible to experience continued cramping over several days. Pain medications can be prescribed to control these symptoms. The cramping typically lasts the same duration as a menstrual cycle with resolution within seven to 10 days.
An evaluation will be scheduled with the interventional radiology (IR) physician two to three weeks following the procedure.
The earliest benefit is the brief time required for recovery following UFE. Patients typically are back to work and play within seven to 10 days.
For bleeding, our results and published reports confirm that greater than 90 percent of women will experience a decrease to a normal cycle. There is an 85 percent chance that the pain or bulk symptoms such as urinary frequency will improve. Greater than 80 percent of women will have a durable and effective resolution of their symptoms following UFE.
About 2 percent of women completely stop having menstrual periods after uterine fibroid embolization. It remains unclear whether this is a result of decreased ovarian function from the procedure.
Adverse reactions are anticipated in less than 3 percent of women. Serious potential complications include injury to the uterus from decreased blood supply or infection. This is rare and hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus) to treat either of these complications occurs in less than 1 percent of women.
Long-term complications are uncommon, though several questions about potential side effects remain unanswered.
It is uncertain what effect blocking the uterine arteries will have on the ability to become pregnant in the future, or to carry a pregnancy to full-term. The majority of women that have had this procedure are finished with childbearing. Therefore, only a few women have tried to become pregnant after this procedure.
You may contact the offices of Michael J. Miller MD, David Sopko, MD, and Waleska M. Pabon-Ramos, MD, MPH, Division of Vascular-Interventional Radiology, at Duke University Medical Center at 919-684-7280 or e-mail Debbie Semmel, FNP-BC, at firstname.lastname@example.org to make an appointment.