If you are diagnosed with uterine fibroids, you have multiple treatment options, and a hysterectomy does not necessarily be the first one to consider.
Less invasive treatments are available for you including uterine fibroid embolization (UFE), which is also known as uterine artery embolization. If you and your physician have decided on this particular course of treatment, here is what you can expect before, during, and after your procedure.
UFE at Oklahoma Fibroids
Uterine fibroid embolization is performed usually as an outpatient procedure by an interventional radiologist. No anesthesia or sutures are required, and the tiny incision is numbed before beginning, therefore there is no pain.
The procedure normally takes less than an hour to perform. It is required for the patient to have a driver present in order to safely transport them home after the UFE.
Instructions Before UFE
If you are having a UFE, it is advised that you drink plenty of fluids the day before the procedure. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight unless you are required to do so as part of a prescribed routine. You may take your medications with just a few sips of water. Even though this small amount of water will not harm you, it is vital that you alert your doctor about your list of current medications that will need to be taken prior to your procedure.
It is wise to set up your bedroom with readily available items like a loose nightgown, tissues, a heating pad, thermometer, and your cell phone complete with important phone numbers.
What Happens During a UFE Procedure
A light sedative will be administered intravenously to relax and induce sleep. A tiny incision will be made in the groin area and a thin catheter is inserted into the uterine artery. Using a high definition X-ray camera, particles made of gelatin or plastic are injected into the artery that supplies blood to the fibroids. This causes the fibroids to shrink and eventually die. The same process is then repeated on the other artery of the uterus.
Once liquids can be tolerated and there is no more bleeding from the entry point, you may return home.
Immediately After a UFE Procedure
Expect to have cramping in your lower abdominal region for about 24 hours. They will likely feel similar to what you experience during a normal menstrual cycle, but will subside quickly. Most physicians recommend that patients plan to stay home for at least one week to recover from their uterine fibroid embolization.
The following restrictions apply immediately after a UFE procedure:
- No bathing for 2 weeks. Shower as normal.
- No tampons for at least one full cycle.
- Abstain from sex for 2 weeks.
- No heavy lifting until your strength fully returns.
- Flights and travel are not recommended for at least 2 weeks.
- Refrain from taking aspirin for at least the first week.
Ask Dr. Blake Parsons if there are any additional instructions for you to follow post-procedure. There will a series of medications prescribed for pain, cramps, and nausea, especially for the first 48 hours, and then as needed for the next week or two. Other possible prescriptions include a stool softener to help prevent you from straining during a bowel movement.
Most patients can return to all normal activities after 2 weeks. Eat healthy foods and drink lots of liquids after the procedure to ensure a speedy recovery!
Expect significant improvement in symptoms caused by your uterine fibroids within the first one to three months. Monitor any signs of infection like fever and chills, along with a watery vaginal discharge that should subside during the first month after treatment.
If you are ready to leave behind the heavy periods, pelvic pain and pressure, urinary incontinence and pain during sex, the UFE procedure may be the answer for you.
If you’re considering treatment for uterine fibroids, or have any questions about the UFE procedure, request an appointment with Dr. Blake Parsons at Oklahoma Fibroids today! You can request an appointment online or call (405) 241-3538.