12 mins



Uterine Fibroid Embolization

Do you have excessive bleeding or pain during menstruation? Uterine fibroids could be the cause.

Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous tumors in the uterus. They are the most common type of tumor within the female reproductive system. It is estimated that 30 percent of women throughout the world have fibroids. The majority of these women have no symptoms at all, and treatment is probably unnecessary. Of the women who do experience fibroid symptoms, many suffer from pain, discomfort and sometimes infertility. They may experience heavy and uncomfortable periods. This may be accompanied by pain in the pelvis, lower back or abdomen.

Some women feel the need to urinate frequently and have painful bowel movements. Only a doctor can determine the cause of these conditions, but if your doctor determines that your discomfort is being caused by fibroid tumors, you may be a candidate for uterine fibroid embolization (UFE).

Treatment options

UFE is a fairly new and highly successful minimally-invasive procedure. The procedure works by limiting blood flow to fibroid tumors, thus destroying them. Patients avoid surgery and recover faster. Most UFE patients have relatively mild discomfort, are released from the hospital after an overnight stay and are back to their routines in about a week.UFE

During the procedure, patients are given a sedation medication but remain awake. A catheter is inserted into an artery at the top of their thigh and guided to the uterine artery by X-ray imaging. Small particles are then injected through the catheter and into the blood vessels that feed the fibroids, blocking the blood flow to these often painful tumors.

Alternative to hysterectomy

Until recently, one of the only treatment options for uterine fibroids was a hysterectomy, or surgery to remove the uterus. While the procedure is an effective treatment for uterine fibroids, it is also more invasive than UFE, and recovery can take anywhere from three to six weeks. Women should discuss all of their options with their physician to determine which procedure is best for them.

While we do not know what causes uterine fibroids, we know that they are associated with estrogen. Fibroids typically start growing during puberty and shrink after menopause. Though it is most common for women to have uterine fibroid symptoms during their 30s and 40s, painful symptoms can occur at any age. Uterine fibroids affect women of every race, though African-American women are especially susceptible to developing fibroids.

If you suffer from excessive pain, bleeding and frequent urination associated with uterine fibroids, talk to your doctor to find out if UFE is right for you.

Chesapeake Regional is a UFE Center for Excellence

We are No. 1 in Southeastern Virginia for UFE procedures and Dr. Lewis has performed more UFE procedures than any other doctor in Virginia.

Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) live chat

Dr. Victor Lewis Chesapeake Regional Medical Center hosted a live, interactive chat May 22 with Dr. Victor Lewis III, director of interventional radiology. Dr. Lewis led the discussion and answered questions about uterine fibroid symptoms and treatment options, including UFE, a minimally invasive procedure.

Click here to go to the archived chat

 Interventional radiology is on the forefront of technology

Interventional radiology, a sub-specialty of radiology, is one of the fastest growing sub-specialties in medicine today. Physicians who specialize in this evolving medical field use such image-guided technology as MRIs, CT scans, X-rays and ultrasounds to navigate small catheters and catheter-based instruments, thus reducing the need for large incisions or general anesthesia. Angioplasty was one of the first IR procedures. Today, there are dozens and the list is growing fast.

IR procedures, like UFE, pose less risk, require less recovery time and less intensive sedation, and are more cost-effective than more conventional surgeries. Sometimes, these procedures are the only viable option for critically ill patients unable to tolerate a surgical procedure.

Read about one woman's experience

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Chesapeake Radiologists, Ltd.
Chesapeake Regional Medical Center
736 Battlefield Blvd., North
Chesapeake, VA 23320