From Seminars in Interventional Radiology
Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) is a minimally invasive procedure used to block blood flow to fibroid tumors of the uterus. Fibroids are muscular tumors of varying sizes that grow in the wall of the uterus. They are rarely cancerous. However, they may cause heavy menstrual bleeding, pain, and pressure on the bladder or bowel. In these cases, an interventional radiologist may use X-ray guidance to move a small plastic tube into the small arteries which are feeding the fibroids. Then tiny plastic particles are injected into the arteries to block them and starve the fibroid of its blood supply, shrinking it.
Over the past decade, UFE, sometimes called uterine artery embolization (UAE), has become a popular alternative treatment for women with symptomatic fibroids who desire uterine preservation or the avoidance of surgical intervention. In this article, the history of UFE, preprocedure patient evaluation and patient selection, procedure technique, and expected outcomes are reviewed.