Many women in their menopausal age experience heavy or irregular menstrual patterns. Several young women in their child bearing age complain of unusually heavy bleeding or bleeding in between periods and associated cramping. It is possible that these are indicative of the presence of uterine fibroids.
What are Uterine Fibroids?
Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous growth of muscles on uterine walls. It may appear as a single, small, or large fibroid or as a cluster of many fibroids. Smaller fibroids can exist without any symptoms and are usually harmless and do not require any treatment. However, some large fibroids can weigh several kilograms and may measure more than 20 cms in diameter, about the size of a small watermelon. They can even impact organs like lungs or bladder. When fibroids grow larger and heavier, women start gaining weight in the abdomen and may even start looking pregnant. Based on doctor’s recommendations, such large fibroids are treated either using medications or other procedures.
How are Uterine fibroids treated?
Treatment for Uterine fibroids typically involves surgeries such as hysterectomy, abdominal myomectomy, or endometrial ablation. Today, with advanced technological aid, a procedure called Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) has become quite popular in the treatment of fibroids and it is generally found to have very good outcomes.
The procedure is a minimally invasive alternative to surgery and is generally considered safe. It requires minimal hospital stay and provides a speedy recovery when compared to surgery.
It is recommended to women who are symptomatic from fibroids and those who prefer to avoid any surgical procedure. The treatment is effective in treating all types of fibroids in the uterus- be it few or many irrespective of the fibroid size.
What to expect during UFE procedure?
During the UFE procedure, your doctor, through a small needle hole, will insert a thin, flexible tube called catheter and inject small pellets into the uterine arteries that supply blood to the fibroids and uterus. The aim of the procedure is to block the blood supply to the fibroids and thus deprive them of essential nutrients, which results in shrinkage of the fibroid. The entire procedure is done under local anesthesia.
When the blood supply is cut off, the fibroids gradually shrink and then the constant pressure on the internal organs that causes pain and discomfort is gradually eliminated. Patients experience improvement in their symptoms as early as few days to few months.
What to expect after embolization procedure?
Once the procedure is completed it might take a week or two to completely recover. In the initial few days, you might experience pelvic pain, fevers with accompanied chills, and fatigue. You may prefer to be in the hospital while you recover. Intravenous medication can provide pain relief during the recovery. Those who prefer returning home the day of the procedure pain reliever medications may be prescribed for use at home.
The first menstrual cycle after the procedure might be heavier and you may probably experience more discomfort than usual. You may also experience bleeding in between your cycles in the first few months. However, you will experience considerable improvements in the following months as the fibroids start to shrink and your symptoms reduce.
Around 85% of the patients experience major improvements in their symptoms after the procedure. Others might need to have repeat embolization sessions or other procedures for improvement in their symptoms.
At AVIS Vascular Centre, during the days following the procedure, medical guidance and support will be available to you over phone, while you recover at home.
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