Uterine Artery Embolization

Uterine Artery Embolization

Uterine Artery Embolization

Uterine Artery Embolization (UAE), also called Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE), is a minimally invasive method of treating uterine fibroids that is usually carried out by an Interventional Radiologist or a specialist in Obstetrics and Gynaecology who has training in uterine artery embolization.

UAE involves blocking the supply of blood to the fibroid, which causes the fibroid to shrink and die over time. This is done by inserting a contrast into the blood vessels around the uterus and viewing them with the aid of a fluoroscope (a special type of X-ray), identifying the specific vessels supplying the fibroid, and then inserting small particles into these vessels to block them. It takes a period of about 3 to 6 months for the fibroids to shrink completely, and sometimes there might be a need for an additional hysteroscopic surgery to remove remnant pieces of the fibroid.

A UAE is a good alternative to surgery for patients with symptomatic fibroids, for those in whom surgery is contraindicated for medical reasons, those who have had repeated uterine surgeries, or a previous unsuccessful myomectomy.

To determine suitability for a UAE, the doctor will request for a special type of scan called an MRI, which shows better the exact location and sizes of the fibroids.

The procedure is done under mild anaesthesia. After you have been sedated, a small cut is made around the groin to gain access into a large blood vessel called the femoral artery. A thin tube is passed into it and a contrast (dye) is passed into this tube, and all the arteries supplying the uterus can be viewed on a monitor by the doctor. The vessels to the fibroids are identified, and then small particles are passed into these arteries to block them. The doctor will confirm that blood is no longer flowing to the fibroid(s). After the procedure, you will need to be kept in overnight for observation, and will be discharged the next day.

Presently, South Shore offers Uterine Fibroid Embolization services in partnership with Dr. Andrew Lawson of the Netcare Femina Hospital in Pretoria, South Africa.

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