Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) blocks the arteries that supply blood to the fibroids, causing them to shrink. It is a minimally invasive, nonsurgical procedure, which means it requires only a tiny nick in the skin and is performed while the patient is conscious but sedated (drowsy and feeling no pain).
UFE is performed by an interventional radiologist, a physician who is specially trained to perform this and other minimally invasive procedures.
The interventional radiologist makes a small nick (less than one-quarter of an inch) in the skin of the groin and inserts a tiny tube, or catheter, into the femoral artery. The catheter is guided through the artery to the uterus using advanced 3-D X-ray imaging (fluoroscopy).
Tiny plastic particles the size of grains of sand are injected into the artery that is supplying blood to the fibroid tumor. This cuts off the blood flow and causes the tumor(s) to shrink. The artery on the other side of the uterus is then treated. The skin puncture where the catheter was inserted is cleaned and covered with a bandage.
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