Treatment options for uterine fibroids

Increasingly women seek non-surgical options for dealing with large fibroids as an alternative to a traditional hysterectomy or myomectomy. When making a decision over which treatment option will be best for you it is important to seek professional advice from your GP, your Gynaecologist and increasingly from an Interventional Radiologist (IR) who specialises in fibroids.

Interventional Radiology for Uterine Fibroids

An IR is a highly trained specialist doctor who can perform minimally invasive, image-guided medical treatments. These treatments involve guided operations utilising imaging techniques such as ultrasound or X-ray in real time. IR can be used as a quicker and safer alternative to many types of traditional surgery, resulting in better outcomes for patients and shorter stays in hospital. 

Uterine Fibroid Embolisation (UFE) is a non-surgical, minimally-invasive, procedure that blocks off the arteries that would normally supply the fibroids with blood (the uterine arteries).

In his article What is involved in Uterine Fibroid Embolisation (UFE)?, IR Dr Nigel Hacking provides patients with detailed insight into the information needed to help aid informed decision-making.

Some key points include the following:

  • UFE is performed with the patient conscious, but sedated.
  • It was first performed in France in the early 1990’s, although radiologists have been embolising uterine arteries for more than 20 years to control bleeding from the womb, especially after childbirth.
  • 80-96% of women are satisfied with the treatment and its result, and most patients rate the procedure as “very tolerable”.
  • The shrinkage in fibroid size averages 60% but varies from 20-100%.
  • Most women start getting relief of symptoms immediately, although fibroids that have taken years to develop will take months, or even years, to shrink to their final size.
  • Over 300,000 women world-wide have undergone uterine fibroid embolisation (UFE).

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A fluid that transports oxygen and other substances through the body, made up of blood cells suspended in a liquid. Full medical glossary
A benign tumour, most often in the uterus. Full medical glossary
Benign tumours, most often in the uterus. Full medical glossary
The surgical removal of the uterus (womb). Full medical glossary
A doctor specializing in the interpretation of imaging techniques for the diagnosis and assessment of disease. Full medical glossary
A diagnostic method in which very high frequency sound waves are passed into the body and the reflective echoes analysed to build a picture of the internal organs – or of the foetus in the uterus. Full medical glossary
The uterus. Full medical glossary
A type of electromagnetic radiation used to produce images of the body. Full medical glossary