Many women with fibroids are told they need a hysterectomy (surgery to remove the uterus). In fact, about a third to a half of the 600,000 hysterectomies performed each year in the United States are for fibroids. For many patients, though, a less invasive uterine-sparing alternative called uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) is an option. UFE is a specialty of vascular specialists at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.
During UFE, a medical specialist called an interventional radiologist cuts off the blood supply to fibroids, so that they gradually shrink.
- Doctors begin the procedure by inserting a tiny tube called a catheter into an artery at the top of the leg.
- They guide the catheter into the uterine artery, map the arteries feeding the fibroids using an arteriogram (an x-ray in which a dye is injected into the arteries), and then inject microspheres (the size of grains of sand) through the catheter and into the fibroids to block their blood supply.
- The fibroids begin to shrink, and many women experience rapid relief of their symptoms.
- The procedure takes about an hour, and the recovery time is significantly less than that associated with traditional surgery.
With UFE, the uterus and ovaries are spared (unlike hysterectomy). Studies show that most women who undergo UFE experience significant or complete resolution of their symptoms over time, and their fibroids rarely return.
To make an appointment to consult with a doctor about the UFE procedure, please call (646) 962-9179 (for NewYork-Presbyterian /Weill Cornell Medical Center) or (212) 326-8874 (for NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center).