Interventional Radiologists are replacing the need for surgery and removal of uterus.
This minimally invasive, targeted treatment called UFE, offers a lesser risk, pain and recovery time than surgery. UFE is one of the many advances in medicine pioneered by Interventional Radiologists. Anaemic patients do not need blood transfusion before this procedure.
Uterine fibroids are very common noncancerous (benign) growths that develop in the muscular wall of the uterus. They can range in size from very tiny (a quarter of an inch) to larger than a grapefruit.
Occasionally, they can cause the uterus to grow to the size of a five-month pregnancy. In most cases, there is more than one fibroid in the uterus.
With advances in interventional radiology, women now have an option far less invasive than hysterectomy or other surgery. Using their expertise in managing to deliver treatment directly to the fibroid, Interventional Radiologists block the flow of blood to the tumour, causing it to shrink.
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Around 20 to 40% of women above 35 years old have significantly sized uterine fibroids. These are the most frequent indication of hysterectomy in premenopausal women, making it a major public health issue. In fact, 1/3 of the 600,000 hysterectomies performed annually in the United States are due to fibroids.
UFE is performed by our capable interventional radiologist while the patient is conscious, but sedated and feeling no pain. The procedure does not require general anaesthesia.
The interventional radiologist makes a tiny nick in the skin, less than half a centimetre, in the groin and inserts a catheter into the femoral artery. Using real-time imaging, the radiologist guides the catheter through the artery and then release tiny particles into the uterine arteries that supply blood to the fibroid tumour. This blocks the blood flow to the fibroid tumour and causes it to shrink.
- On average, 90% of women who had the procedure experience significant or total relief of heavy bleeding and other symptoms.
- The procedure is effective for multiple fibroids.
- Recurrence of treated fibroids is very rare. Short and mid-term data show UFE to be very effective with a very low rate of recurrence.7,11,12 Longterm (10 years) data is ongoing and not yet available, but in one study in which patients were followed for six years, no fibroid that had been embolised re-grew.
Most fibroids don’t cause symptoms – only 10% to 20% of women who have fibroids require treatment. Depending on size, location and number of fibroids, they may cause:
- Heavy, prolonged menstrual periods and unusual monthly bleeding, sometimes with clots. This can lead to anaemia.
- Pelvic pain and pressure
- Pain in the back and legs
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Bladder pressure leading to a frequent urge to urinate
- Pressure on the bowel, leading to constipation and bloating
- Abnormally enlarged abdomen
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