• Any procedure that involves placement of a catheter inside a blood vessel carries certain risks, Such as damage to the blood vessel, bruising or bleeding at the puncture site, and infection. However precaution is taken to mitigate these risks.
  • When performed by an experienced interventional radiologist, the chance of any of these events occurring during uterine fibroid embolization is less than one percent.
  • Any procedure where the skin is penetrated carries a risk of infection. The chance of infection requiring antibiotic treatment appears to be less than one in 1,000.
  • There is always a chance that an embolic agent can lodge in the wrong place and deprive normal tissue of its oxygen supply.
  • An occasional patient may have an allergic reaction to the x-ray contrast material used during uterine fibroid embolization. These episodes range from mild itching to severe reactions that can affect a woman's breathing or blood pressure. Women undergoing UFE are carefully monitored by a physician and a nurse during the procedure, so that any allergic reaction can be detected immediately and addressed.
  • Approximately 2-3 % of women will pass small pieces of fibroid tissue after uterine fibroid embolization. This occurs when fibroids located inside the uterine cavity detach after embolization. Women with this problem may require a procedure called D & C (dilatation and curettage) to be certain that all the material is removed to prevent bleeding or infection from developing.
  • In the majority of women who undergo uterine fibroid embolization, normal menstrual cycles resume after the procedure. However, in approximately 1-5 % of women, menopause occurs after uterine fibroid embolization. This appears to occur more commonly in women who are older than 45 years.
  • Although the goal of uterine fibroid embolization is to cure fibroid-related symptoms without surgery, some women may eventually need to have a hysterectomy because of infection or persistent symptoms. The likelihood of requiring hysterectomy after uterine fibroid embolization depends on how much time elapses until menopause. The younger the patient, the greater the tendency to develop new fibroids or recurrent symptoms.
  • Women are exposed to x-rays during UFE, but exposure levels usually are well below those where adverse effects on the patient or future childbearing would be a concern.
  • It is not possible to predict whether the uterine wall is in any way weakened by UFE. Therefore, the current recommendation is to use contraception for six months after the procedure and to undergo a Cesarean section during delivery rather than to risk rupture of the wall of the uterus from the intense muscular contractions that occur during labor.
  • Because the effect of uterine fibroid embolization on fertility is not fully understood, UFE is typically offered to women who no longer wish to become pregnant or who want or need to avoid having a hysterectomy.

Understand the risks.

Although UFE complications are rare, any medical procedure carries some degree of risk. Despite the low risk factor, it is important to understand the potential complications associated with UFE. These include:

  • Embolization of non-target organs (bowel, bladder, nerves, and buttock)
  • Sexual dysfunction related to non-target embolization (cervicovaginal branch)
  • Transient amenorrhea (absence of period)
  • Common short-term allergic reaction/rash
  • Vaginal discharge/infection
  • Possible fibroid passage (transcervical passage of fibroid; can cause discharge, cramps, and possible urinary retention)
  • Post-embolization syndrome (post-procedure pain, fever, tiredness, and elevated white blood cell count)
  • Premature menopause

 

The effects of UFE on the ability to become pregnant and carry a fetus to term, and on the development of the fetus, have not been determined. As with any medical procedure, discuss all risks and complications with your physician.

 

 

 

TAKE CHARGE

 

Don’t suffer in silence with fibroids. Instead, reclaim your life! Learn as much as you can about uterine fibroids and treatment options, work together with your family and healthcare team to make the best of your care, and take control of your life.