NEW JERSEY'S

Most Technologically Advanced Provider of Imaging Services

Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE)

Introduction

Uterine fibroids, also called leiomyomas or myomas, are abnormal benign growths that occur in the wall, or protrude from the wall, of the uterus. They can be as small as a pea, or grow to the size of a grapefruit, even larger! They can occur as single or multiple growths; sometimes as many as a dozen or more.

Symptoms from fibroids can vary from annoying to debilitating, and include:

  • Heavy, prolonged, or painful periods
  • Pelvic pressure, pain, or bloating
  • Lower back pain
  • Frequent urination, or difficulty emptying the bladder
  • Constipation or rectal discomfort

Traditional treatments for fibroids include hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus) or myomectomy (surgical removal of individual fibroids, one at a time). Our interventional radiologists perform a minimally invasive procedure called fibroid embolization which cuts off the fibroids’ blood supply, forcing them to shrink and eliminating the need for surgery.

Have Questions?

Call to schedule your appointment today:  (201) 488-2660

Uterine Fibroid

Uterine fibroids are classified according to their location within uterus. There three primary types of fibroid tumors: Subserosal, Intramural, and Submucosal. Pedunculated uterine fibroids occur when the fibroid grows on a stalk.

Watch: Uterine Fibroid Embolization Treatment
Benefits of UFE
  • A minimally invasive procedure that is performed without general anesthesia and has a much shorter recovery time than hysterectomy or myomectomy
  • No surgical incision is required as only a small skin nick is needed to perform the procedure. No stitches are needed
  • Approximately 90% of women who have their fibroids treated with a uterine fibroid embolization exhibit significant or complete resolution of their symptoms
  • Multiple fibroids can be treated at once. During the procedure, a catheter is selectively placed into blood vessels that supply the uterus, thereby allowing treatment of all of the fibroids at once
  • The uterus is spared. Since the procedure entails cutting off the blood supply to the fibroids, the vast majority of the remaining uterus remains intact while the fibroids significantly decrease in size, thereby eliminating symptoms
  • Less risk than surgery. Since the procedure only requires conscious sedation, the risks associated with general anesthesia are not encountered. Also, the risk of major bleeding or pelvic infection is less than with surgery
Uterine Fibroid

Uterine fibroid Emblozation (UFE) is performed by an Interventional Radiologist (IR), a doctor that performs minimally invasive image-guided diagnosis and treatment of diseases.

Have Questions?

Call to schedule your appointment today:  (201) 488-2660

FAQ’s About UFE

How long does a uterine fibroid embolization take?

A typical procedure lasts between 30 and 60 minutes

What exactly does the doctor do during the procedure?

During the procedure, the interventional radiologist carefully identifies the arteries supplying the fibroids and then places a small catheter into them. He or she then slowly delivers small beads to the fibroids to cut off their blood supply. The fibroids then slowly shrink in size, significantly reducing or completely eliminating the symptoms.

Uterine Fibroid

During UFE Treatment a tiny tube called a catheter is inserted through the femoral artery at the top of the leg or into the radial artery accessed through the wrist. Patients receive mild sedation and a numbing agent to minimize the discomfort.

Uterine Fibroid

The catheter is then guided into the left or right uterine artery and an arteriogram (an imaging test that uses x-ray and a special dye to see inside the arteries) is done to map the arteries feeding the fibroids.

Uterine Fibroid

The tiny embolic particles each measuring about the same size as a grain of sand, are injected through the catheter and into the blood vessels that feed the fibroids, cutting off their blood supply.

Uterine Fibroid

Fibroids are treated from both the left and right uterine arteries so that the blood flow feeding the fibroids is completely blocked.

Uterine Fibroid

With their blood flow blocked, the fibroids begin to shrink, but the uterus and ovaries are spared.

What can I expect before the procedure?

Uterine Fibroid

Pre-procedure MRI demonstrating a large uterine fibroid

Before the procedure, you will have a consultation with the interventional radiologist where the entire procedure will be discussed in detail. Also, an MRI is typically obtained to better visualize all of the fibroids.

What can I expect after the procedure?

Our patients will go home the same day or the next day. Those who stay overnight will have nurses help them with any symptom relief. Most women feel ready to return to usual activities including work within a few days. We would prescribe pain control medications which you can reduce as you return to normal. The main symptom after the procedure is crampy pelvic pain. This is alleviated with a robust regimen of pain medications before, during, and after the procedure. Low grade fever and nausea may also occur after the procedure.

Will my insurance cover a uterine fibroid embolization?

Almost all insurance companies cover this procedure. Our office does a pre-authorization for you.

Does your center offer radial artery access for this procedure?

Uterine Fibroid

Yes, our doctors are uniquely trained in doing this procedure from the wrist (as well as the groin). The benefits include a lesser risk of bleeding, no need to keep your leg straight after the procedure (allowing immediate ambulation), and in many cases, a quicker procedure.

During the procedure, contrast is injected into the arteries to delineate the anatomy. Here, a catheter inserted from a small incision in the left wrist is injected, demonstrating filling of the left uterine artery (on the right side of the image), which is supplying a large fibroid. Small particles are then delivered through the catheter, directly decreasing blood flow to the fibroid(s), causing them to shrink in size. Particles were subsequently injected from the right uterine artery as well. The entire procedure typically takes between 30 and 60 minutes.

Can this procedure treat adenomyosis?

Yes, although not as effective as treating fibroids, this procedure has also been shown to be beneficial in patients suffering from uterine adenomyosis. In many cases, it can be a reasonable alternative to a hysterectomy.

How is UFE different from surgeries such as hysterectomy/myomectomy?

  • Same day or single night procedure
  • Shorter recovery time
  • Quick relief of symptoms
  • Unlikely to cause menopause
  • Preserves the uterus
  • No incisions, stitches or scars
  • Fibroid treatment options

Should I be worried about early menopause?

After hysterectomy women have nearly twice the risk of ovarian failure which can lead to symptoms of menopause. If the ovaries are also removed during surgery, women will enter menopause. While a woman in her 50's may not mind entering menopause, younger women may not be ready to enter this stage of life. UFE patients can have their menstrual cycles restored and maintained with a far less likelihood of the onset of menopause.

PATIENT TESTIMONIALS

Testimonial Image
Carmen – Letting All Women Know There’s an Alternative to Hysterectomy

Like many women, Carmen discovered she had fibroids accidentally. While visiting her gynecologist to remove an ovarian cyst, she also found out she had fibroids. Within a few years, Carmen started to develop serious symptoms like heavy, long, painful periods. Carmen admitted having to wear a super absorbency tampon, two ultra absorbency maxi-pads, a Depend® adult diaper, and Spanks® to hold it all together.

Not able to tolerate it any longer, she began to explore fibroid treatments. After searching for alternatives and getting nowhere, Carmen finally learned about uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) from an acquaintance who also suffered from fibroids. For Carmen, deciding to get UFE was the best decision for her. Recovery was uncomplicated. After resting for four days, she was back at work a week after the procedure.

“I’m hoping that I can use this platform to let other women know about UFE,” Carmen emphasized. “Women who are afraid to wear white pants and who feel a gush of blood flowing every time they get up from their seat. Who pray they have not messed up their seat at work or messed up the back of their pants or their nice skirt when they go out to dinner or they go to church. I hope that by doing this, I let other women know—just like I found out—that there is an alternative.”

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Gwen – UFE Was the Answer to My Prayers

“My gynecologist’s treatment for fibroids was to have a hysterectomy, which was very upsetting to me at the time,” explained Gwen. “I didn’t go back to him for treatment. I got really depressed and so I spent most of my time at home because I was afraid to go out. It was just taking the life right out of me. I had prayed that I would get an answer for this, because the answer that my doctor gave me was unacceptable”

Like many women who are looking for alternatives to hysterectomy, Gwen didn’t learn about all the options from her OB-GYN. After a specialist doctor explained the benefits of uterine fibroid embolization (UFE), Gwen knew she had to call and make an appointment.

Following UFE, Gwen described her recovery as amazing. With cramping only lasting a day after the procedure, she reported feeling like “a million bucks” and only needing ibuprofen to ease any discomfort. By sharing her story, Gwen hopes to show women with fibroids they aren’t alone and to encourage them to look beyond surgery.

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Luisa – Returned to Active Lifestyle

With irregular periods that were extremely heavy, Luisa felt stuck and afraid to go anywhere. She faced a lot of emotional and physical distress. Luisa had fibroids and needed a solution so she could take back control in her life. “At first, the only options I was told about were to either have a myomectomy or a hysterectomy,” said Luisa. “There was also another procedure, which I don’t remember the name of, but those were the only three options given to me by my OB-GYN.”

“While I was considering one of these three options, I just happened to hear a radio advertisement about an upcoming seminar about uterine fibroids,” she continued. “I attended the seminar and that’s how I learned about uterine fibroid embolization.” After Luisa underwent uterine fibroid embolization, she expressed how everything changed. Luisa knew almost immediately that the procedure made a difference.

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Shelly – Uterine Fibroid Embolization Gave Me Back My Life

Shelly, a Registered Nurse, assumed her difficult periods were normal. After two miscarriages and developing a heart murmur because of long-standing anemia, Shelly wondered if her symptoms were something more serious. “It wasn’t until my late 20s that I was diagnosed with uterine fibroids at a routine gynecological check-up,” said Shelly. “I had several fibroids of different sizes throughout my uterus.”

Shelly’s doctor made her aware of options ranging from hormonal medications to surgical interventions, such as a hysterectomy. He didn’t tell her of another less-invasive yet highly effective option—uterine fibroid embolization (UFE). After suffering through several hormone treatments, which threw Shelly into menopause, she finally learned about UFE. For Shelly, the UFE procedure had no complications and it alleviated her from the severe symptoms.

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Shelaagh – A Fight for UFE

“It seemed as if I was developing muscle on one side of my abdomen and not the other,” explained Shelaagh. “I went to my doctor and said, ‘It’s really strange. Why do I have overdeveloped muscles on my right side of my abdomen and not on my left?’” It was then that Shelaagh was diagnosed with a fibroid the size of an avocado. Her doctor gave her four options: a hysterectomy, a myomectomy, uterine fibroid embolization (UFE), or to watch and wait.

After watching and waiting for six years, Shelaagh’s fibroid began pressing on a major vessel that carries blood from the lower body to the heart. Shelaagh reviewed her options again and had her fibroid treated through UFE. “The result for me is I don’t feel tired anymore. I feel younger than I was then. I have far more energy and a flatter looking tummy,” said Shelaagh. “It’s been just over a year now. My fibroid is still there but it is a lot smaller and lighter.”

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Kellie – I was told I needed a hysterectomy. With UFE, I went home with a Band-Aid®.

“I was in the shower,” said Kellie. “And I thought I was going to die. I thought I was bleeding to death.” The cause of her uncontrolled bleeding? Uterine fibroids. But severe bleeding and cramping weren’t always normal for Kellie. Growing up with easy periods, she didn’t pay much attention when they worsened in 2012. Her bedtime routine consisted of wearing a super absorbency tampon combined with an overnight maxi-pad and sleeping on top of the blankets because her bleeding was so heavy.

After suffering with horrendous symptoms for over a year, Kellie was officially diagnosed with uterine fibroids in late 2013. Along with a diagnosis, her general practitioner gave her one treatment option: surgery. Fortunately, a friend told her about a doctor in her area who specialized in a procedure called uterine fibroid embolization (UFE). She made an appointment right away and went through with the procedure.

Now she describes her life having endless possibilities—at any time during the month—thanks to her periods being back to normal for the first time in years. By telling her story to other women, Kellie hopes to pass along her enthusiasm for living fibroid-free and give other women the courage to look beyond surgery.

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Donna – UFE Gave Me My Life Back

In Donna’s case, her fibroids caused irregular periods about twice a month. Her periods were heavy and Donna became emotionally unstable. Donna’s situation came to a point where it was ruining her life, which is when she decided to have uterine fibroid embolization (UFE).

“My decision was to take a less-invasive route and have uterine fibroid embolization, which offers a shorter recovery time compared to surgery,” said Donna. “My procedure went well; there were no complications.” “Today, I feel 10 years younger,” she continued. “I feel extremely happy. My mood levels are constant, back to normal again. I also feel that my love life has improved tremendously. He (Donna’s husband) is happy to be around me, I’m happy to be around him, things are so much better.”

Meet Our Interventional Radiologists

JOHN-DEMERITT-M.D.

John Demeritt M.D.

George-Ferrone-M.D.

George Ferrone M.D.

JOSHUA-NG-M.D.

Joshua Ng M.D.

JASKIRAT-S.-VIRK-M.D.

Jaskirat Virk M.D.

ANOOP-WATTAMWAR-M.D.

Anoop Wattamwar M.D.