Treatment methods for uterine fibroids have seen significant progress over the years. Still, far too many physicians continue to advise hysterectomies – surgery to remove the uterus – as a preferred treatment option. According to the National Institute of Health, over 200,000 hysterectomies are performed each year to treat uterine fibroids. Fortunately, advances in medical technology, more powerful imaging equipment, and treatments such as Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) are making a tremendous impact on the lives of women with uterine fibroids.
What should a woman know about UFE vs. surgery for the treatment of uterine fibroids?
Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE), also known as Uterine Artery Embolization, is a procedure that’s targeted toward decreasing and stopping the blood flow that goes towards the fibroids. UFE is an image-guided, minimally invasive treatment that provides less recovery time, better outcomes, and no hospital stay. A surgical treatment uses cutting or sometimes laparoscopic equipment in order to directly remove either the uterus with a hysterectomy or individual fibroids, in a procedure called a myomectomy. Uterine Artery Embolization is a minimally invasive way of decreasing the impact of fibroids without doing an actual surgical procedure.
Are black women at a higher risk for uterine fibroids?
The incidence of uterine fibroids in the black female population is approximately 25% in patients who are 18 to 30 years old. In the white female population, that same age range has an incidence rate of approximately 6%. In fact, for black patients between the age of 35 years and approximately 55 years of age, that number can actually increase to almost 60%. Additionally, black women are two to three times more likely to have recurrent fibroids resulting in symptoms.
Can uterine fibroids cause anemia?
Uterine fibroids, which are benign tumors located in the uterus, can certainly result in anemia. The reason this results in anemia is due to the heavy bleeding that can be associated with fibroids. At its worst, anemia can be severe in some women, requiring blood transfusions. Other women may not even realize they are anemic, but experience feeling tired all the time. Additionally, a lot of patients suffering from uterine fibroids that have anemia will also be on iron treatments.
Do you need both a pelvic ultrasound and an MRI to know if you are a good candidate for UFE?
The initial diagnostic tool for fibroids, besides a physical examination and taking a good history from a patient, is typically an abdominal pelvic ultrasound. Once the uterine fibroid diagnosis is made, depending on what treatment option the patient is opting for, an MRI is typically required for the Uterine Artery Embolization procedure. There are several reasons for this, primarily to confirm that these fibroids are active. If the fibroids are currently not active, then performing a uterine artery embolization procedure would not necessarily be helpful or beneficial. Additionally, the ability to see the morphology or what the fibroid looks like ensures that there are no suspicions that there may be some other underlying disease. If somebody is having a hysterectomy, undergoing an MRI may not be as important.
Schedule a Consultation with Dr. Herman
Uterine Fibroid Embolization is an image-guided, minimally invasive treatment that cuts off the blood supply to the fibroids. When the fibroids cease bleeding, they shrink because they are devoid of blood. UFE has been proven to reduce the size and severity of fibroids in studies and is an excellent treatment decision for the majority of women affected by the symptoms of uterine fibroids. You deserve to stop living in pain from uterine fibroids and get back to living your life! Request a consultation with Dr. Herman at one of our American Endovascular centers today for expert care!