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What is Uterine fibroids?

Uterine Fibroids are nothing but muscular lumps that grow on your uterus. They usually vary in size, shape and the location of growth. Sometimes they are so small that is not even visible to your doctor and sometimes they grow into massive lumps. They usually appear in the following locations:

  • The uterine wall
  • Surface of the uterine wall
  • Attached to your uterus by a stem-like structure
  • It is most likely to appear in women in the age group of 30-40 and very rarely do they turn cancerous.

What causes Uterine Fibroids?

Although the exact cause of Fibroids is yet to be determined, some of the factors that research over the years pin point to are:

  • Being over the age of 30
  • Hormones - Estrogen and Progesterone may stimulate the growth of fibroids
  • A family history of fibroids
  • Being of African-American descent
  • Obesity

How are fibroids diagnosed ?

Usually detected during a routine pelvic examination, some of the diagnostic procedures for uterine fibroids may include:

  • X-ray
  • Ultrasonography
  • MRI
  • Hysterosalpingography
  • Hysteroscopy
  • Endometrial biopsy
  • Blood test

What is the treatment ?

Minimally Invasive Surgery:

UAE (Uterine artery embolization) or UFE (Uterine fibroid embolization): This is a new minimally invasive technique which first identifies the arteries supplying blood to the fibroids and then embolize it (block off) effectively shrinking the fibroids. The procedure involves injecting a chemical through a catheter into a blood vessel in the leg, guided by X-ray scans.

Before the procedure

A few days before the procedure you may be advised by your doctor to:

Stop taking any form of pain killers such as Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Warfarin or any other medicines that make it hard for your blood to clot.If you smoke, it is advisable to quit.

The procedure

This procedure is performed by Vascular Interventional Radiologist under local anesthesia and it is important for the patient to stay awake to follow instructions during the procedure.The whole process takes about 1 to 3 hours and although one is conscious throughout, one feels no pain. A sedative is administered to relax the patient, followed by application of a local anesthetic to the skin around the groin area to effectively numb the area.

Once the area has numbed, a tiny incision is made at the top of your leg, and a thin tube known as the catheter, is inserted into your femoral artery. The radiologist uses real time X-ray on a video screen, called fluoroscopy to guide the catheter to the arteries.The catheter is skillfully maneuvered into your uterine artery, which supplies blood to the uterus. Once the catheter is in place, small plastic or gelatin particles are injected into the blood vessels that supply blood to the fibroids. On injecting this material into your body, you may get a warm feeling.

These particles build up in the targeted arteries and block blood flow to the fibroid and causes it to shrink significantly and eventually cause it to die. If required, depending on the location of your fibroids, the same procedure is done both on the right and left uterine arteries through the same incision.

After the procedure

One is advised to lie flat for upto 4-6 hours after the procedure. In most cases the patient is discharged on the very same day as the procedure, or at the most kept overnight for observation.

On discharge, pain medication is prescribed and one is advised bed rest for a couple of days. Most women go back to their normal work routine within 7-10 days of UFE (Uterine fibroid embolization).

After effects of the procedure

For the first 24hrs after the procedure it is common to experience moderate to severe pelvic pain. In most cases this is taken care of by the prescribed pain medications.

Some women may experience nausea or vomiting, which can also be easily taken care of by prescribed anti-nausea medicine. You may also have some vaginal bleeding for a couple of weeks. This is nothing but the fibroid that is breaking down and bleeding.

Risks involved

The rate of complications after UFE is low.Studies show that UFE reduces the size of the fibroids on an average by 50%.

Approximately 80 out of 100 women treated with UFE for uterine fibroids report that their symptoms improved.

Know Your Doctor

Dr. Rajah Koppala
Interventional Radiologist


Varicose vein surgery, Deep vein thrombosis (DVT), Uterine fibroid embolization, Latest Interventional Oncology treatment, Dialysis Access and Dialysis Fistuloplasty

About Doctor

Dr Rajah Koppala is a surgeon is extensively trained in Vascular and Interventional Radiology. He acquired MD Training in India followed by FRCR & CCST in the United Kingdom. This was Followed by American Interventional Radiology fellowship and followed by united board certification from Emory University hospital, Atlanta.
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