What is Uterine Artery Embolization

What is Uterine Artery Embolization?

This is considered more a Radiologic Intervention. It entails threading a blood vessel catheter up through the major vessel in the groin, and location the artery that supplies each side of the uterus.

Then, small particles are injected, to stanch the blood flow to these uterine arteries. The intent is to deprive the uterus of its blood circulation, with the presumption that the fibroids will degenerate. Fibroids have the most dependent, “downstream” blood supply.

This procedure does have “global” effects on the entire uterus. A significant percentage of patients experience ongoing pain and/or bleeding, and may pass fibroids vaginally for months. Some 15-20% of patients will go on to require hysterectomy, due to this “post-embolization syndrome.”

This UAE was originally designed as a non-surgical option for high-surgical risk patients suffering from medical complications such as morbid obesity and diabetes. The procedure has had limited acceptance in the healthier general population, due largely to the post-embolization syndrome, that is experienced to some degree by many of these patients.

Author
Patrick Diesfeld, MD

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