What are the benefits of UFE?

Fibroid embolisation usually requires a short hospital stay. Many women resume light activity after a few days and the majority of women are able to return to normal activity within one or two weeks.

On average, 80-90% of women experience significant or total relief of heavy bleeding after the procedure. The procedure is about 85% effective in the treatment of pain and other pressure symptoms.

The procedure is effective even for multiple fibroids and large fibroids.

Recurrence of successfully treated fibroids is very rare. Short and mid-term data show UFE to be very effective with a very low rate of recurrence. Long-term (10 year) data is ongoing and not yet available, but in one study in which patients were followed for six years, no fibroid that had been embolised re-grew. However, some women may develop new fibroids after embolisation.

What are the risks of UFE?

Fibroid embolisation is considered to be very safe; however, there are some associated risks, as there are with almost any medical procedure.

Most women experience moderate to severe pain and cramping in the first few hours following the procedure. Some experience nausea and fever. These symptoms can be controlled with appropriate medication.

A few patients get a vaginal discharge after embolisation, which may be bloodstained. This is usually due to the fibroid breaking down. Usually, the discharge persists for approximately two weeks, although occasionally the discharge can persist intermittently for several months. This is usually not a medical problem in itself, but you may need to wear sanitary protection; we advise you use sanitary towels at this time.

About 5% of women have spontaneously expelled a fibroid, or part of one, this usually occurs during the first months after embolisation. In this case, women are likely to feel a period-like pain and have some vaginal bleeding.

A small number of patients have experienced infection, which can usually be controlled with antibiotics. It has also been reported that there is a 1% chance of injury to the uterus, potentially leading to hysterectomy. Nevertheless these complication rates are lower than those of hysterectomy and myomectomy (surgical removal of fibroids).

A very small number of patients suffer a transient loss of periods. True permanent ovarian failure corresponding to menopause occurs in less than 2% of cases. This is more likely to occur if the woman is in her mid forties or older, and is already nearing menopause.

Myomectomy (surgical removal of fibroids) and hysterectomy (uterus removal) also carry risks, including infection and bleeding leading to transfusion. Patients who undergo myomectomy may develop adhesions causing tissue and organs in the abdomen to fuse together, which can lead to small bowel obstruction or infertility. In addition, the recovery times for these procedures are longer than for UFE.

You should talk to your doctor about possible risks of any procedure you may choose.