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Alternative NamesUterine fibroid embolization; UFE; UAE
Definition Return to top
Uterine artery embolization (UAE) is a procedure to treat fibroids without surgery. Instead, the doctor (a radiologist) uses special imaging methods to treat your uterine fibroids. During the procedure, the blood supply of the fibroids is cut off, causing the fibroids to shrink.
Description Return to top
UAE is done in the radiology department of a hospital. Usually local anesthesia is used. You will be awake but unable to feel pain. (This is called conscious sedation.) The procedure takes about 60 to 90 minutes.
The procedure is usually done this way:
Why the Procedure is Performed Return to top
Uterine artery embolization is an effective way to treat fibroids that are not very large. Sometimes women have UAE done after childbirth to treat very heavy vaginal bleeding.
Women who may want to become pregnant in the future should NOT have this procedure.
Risks Return to top
Uterine artery embolization is generally safe. Ask your doctor about these possible problems.
A risk for any anesthesia is having a bad reaction to the anesthetic that is used.
The risks for any invasive procedure are:
The risks of uterine artery embolization are:
Before the Procedure Return to top
Always tell your doctor or nurse:
Before your UAE:
On the day of your UAE :
After the Procedure Return to top
Women usually stay in the hospital overnight after UAE. Some women are able to go home a few hours after treatment, but this is less common.
You will receive pain medicine. You will be asked to lie flat for 4 to 6 hours after the procedure.
Pelvic cramps are common for the first 24 hours after the procedure. They may last for 2 weeks. Cramps may be severe and may last more than 6 hours at a time.
The treated fibroid tissue may pass through your vagina.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
Uterine artery embolization usually works well to decrease pain, pressure, and bleeding from fibroids. Up to 30% of women who have UAE done:
References Return to top
Edwards RD, Moss JG, Lumsden MA, Wu O, Murray LS, Twaddle S, et al. Uterine-artery embolization versus surgery for symptomatic uterine fibroids. N Engl J Med. 2007 Jan 25;356(4):360-70.
Katz VL. Benign gynecologic lesions : Vulva, vagina, cervix, uterus, oviduct, ovary. In: Duthie EH, Katz PR, Malone ML, eds. Practice of Geriatrics. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 18.
Volkers NA, Hehenkamp WJ, Birnie E, Ankum WM, Reekers JA. Uterine artery embolization versus hysterectomy in the treatment of symptomatic uterine fibroids: 2 years' outcome from the randomized EMMY trial. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2007 Jun;196(6):519.e1-11.Update Date: 2/7/2009 Updated by: Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Redmond, Washington; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.