Uterine Fibroid Embolization
Uterine fibroids, also known as uterine tumors refer to the non-cancerous (benign) growths of the uterus. These commonly develop during the childbearing years of the women.
Fibroids may be as small as the size of a grain or grow to be as large as the size of a watermelon. Women may have one or more uterine tumors. These are not associated with any risk of uterine cancer.
Uterine fibroids are classified into 4 different types :
- Intramural – These tumors develop inside the wall of the uterus and grow outwards from there
- Subserosal – These fibroids develop on the outer wall of the uterus and are known to cause extreme pressure on the neighboring organs
- Submucosal – These tumors grow just below the uterine cavity and may even block the fallopian tubes thus leading to fertility issues
- Pedunculated – These fibroids grow on a stalk either inside the uterus or on its outer lining and can cause extreme pelvic pain
Although medical science is yet to establish the exact cause of uterine fibroids, genetics is known to be a common risk factor. A woman with a family history of uterine fibroids is at a considerably higher risk than the others.
Also, women who are overweight or obese are more likely to develop uterine tumors in their reproductive age. In a few women, uterine fibroids also develop during pregnancy.
It is primarily known that the hormones estrogen and progesterone that stimulate the development of uterine lining during a menstrual cycle are also known to promote the growth of the uterine tumors. Owing to a decrease in hormone production, fibroids have a tendency to shrink after menopause.
In a few women, uterine fibroids are asymptomatic and do not cause any pain or discomfort. Most other women complain of excessive menstrual bleeding and elongated monthly cycles. Some patients may also experience the passage of blood clots during periods.
Pelvic pain is another common sign of uterine fibroids. Also, when these undetected and untreated tumors continue to grow in size, they cause additional pressure on the surrounding body organs and may even lead to swelling around the abdomen.
Other prevalent symptoms of uterine fibroids include frequent urination, pain during intercourse, pain in the lower back and legs, bleeding in-between periods, infertility problems, and repeated miscarriages.
If you have any early signs of uterine fibroids, the doctor will usually begin with a physical examination of the pelvic region. This enables the doctor to feel the size and shape of the uterus while checking for the presence of any undesired growth.
To confirm the presence of uterine tumors and check for the severity of the problem, the doctor is likely to ask the patient to undergo an ultrasound scan and an MRI scan. In some cases, Hysteroscopy, Hyster-sonography, or Hysterosalpingography may also be required.
Endovenous Laser Ablation
The best non-surgical treatment for uterine fibroids is Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE). It is a painless and minimally invasive treatment procedure in which the doctor makes a small cut under the influence of local anesthesia.
A thin catheter is inserted into the affected area and this process is monitored with the help of a live scan. The embolic material is released into the blood vessels feeding the uterine fibroids.
The embolic substance restricts blood supply to these blood vessels as a result of which the tumors shrink in size and eventually die due to lack of oxygen and nutrients. The catheter is then removed safely.
UFE is a brief process and does not take more than an hour. It is performed as an outpatient procedure and there is no need for the patient to be hospitalized.