Uterine fibroid embolization also known as uterine artery embolization, is a non-surgical uterine-sparing treatment for fibroids performed under twilight sedation where you are relaxed and sleepy. The procedure takes approximately 1-2 hours. A thin tube called a catheter is passed through the arteries to the uterus through a tiny incision in the groin or in your left wrist. The incision is approximately the size of the tip of a pencil. Using live X-ray guidance the specific arteries that feed the uterine fibroids are identified and injected with small particles, which are about the size of grains of sand. The particles wedge into those arteries, blocking the flow of blood to the fibroids. This causes the fibroids to shrink and die and allow the uterus to decrease in size. Many women have cramping after the procedure from the fibroids dying, so you may be given some medicine to ease any discomfort. You are able to go home the same day with no overnight stay in the hospital.


The recovery varies from woman to woman. Severe complications are rare with uterine fibroid embolization. Many women may experience post-embolization syndrome which typically peaks about 24-48 hours after the procedure and usually will resolve on their own within a week. Symptoms of post-embolization syndrome may include low-grade fever, mild to moderate pain/cramping, fatigue, nausea and vomiting.

Many women resume light activities in a few days, and the majority of women are able to return to normal activities within 7 to 10 days. In comparison, recovery time after a conventional hysterectomy is approximately 6-8 weeks. Many women will notice a relief of symptoms within 6 weeks after the embolization; however, it takes several months for the fibroids to fully shrink and the full effect of the procedure to be evident. On average, 85-90 percent of women who have had the procedure experience significant or total relief of heavy bleeding, pain and/or bulk-related symptoms. Recent long-term reports demonstrate a 73% symptom resolution rate after five years, which is comparable to the five-year results after myomectomy.


The American college of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) recognizes UFE as a safe and effective treatment for fibroids.

You may be a candidate for UFE if:


  • You are experiencing symptoms associated with uterine fibroids
  • Your activities are limited because of heavy bleeding or pelvic pain
  • You are constantly buying tampons or pads while worrying about bleeding through your clothes
  • You find yourself going to the bathroom very often
  • You have missed work because of pelvic pain or heavy cramping
  • You are constantly taking medications to manage your pain
  • You want to retain your uterus and are looking for alternatives to hysterectomy
  • You do not want surgery or surgery is too risky for you

Reasons to avoid uterine artery embolization:


  • Pregnancy
  • An active or chronic pelvic infection
  • Possible pelvic cancer
  • Uncorrectable bleeding problems
  • Allergy to contrast material containing iodine
  • No symptoms from your fibroids


The American college of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) recognizes uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) as a safe and effective treatment for fibroids. UFE like other minimally invasive procedures has significant advantages over conventional surgery.



  • Non-surgical, minimally invasive treatment with high patient satisfaction
  • No stitches, only one small band-aid
  • Targets all fibroids in the uterus regardless of fibroid size
  • Preservation of the uterus
  • Unlikely to cause menopause
  • Decrease in heavy menstrual bleeding from symptomatic fibroids
  • Decrease in urinary frequency
  • Decrease in pelvic pain and/or pressure
  • Overall, improvement in patient’s physical and emotional well-being
  • Virtually no blood loss
  • Typically performed as an outpatient procedure without hospital stay
  • Shorter recovery and a faster return to work or normal activity when compared to having a hysterectomy
  • Safe procedure that involves minimal risk and fewer complications after 30 days when compared to having a hysterectomy
  • Less expensive than surgery and covered by most insurance companies
  • Can also be used to treat a less common cause of heavy and painful cycles called adenomyosis

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