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Uterine Artery Embolization

Uterine artery embolization (UAE) is a minimally invasive treatment that helps decrease or eliminate symptoms such as bleeding, pressure and pain in women with uterine fibroids, and adenomyosis. 

The objective of UAE is to decrease the blood flow supplying the uterus. When this procedure is performed for the purpose of uterine fibroids treatment, it is called Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE). UAE or UFE is an alternative to major surgery for women who have symptoms from fibroids or adenomyosis. The outpatient procedure preserves the uterus and is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

ConditionsTreated with UAE?

  • Uterine Fibroids: These are non-cancerous growths in the uterus that can range in size and number. Symptoms can include heavy menstrual bleeding, pain, and pressure in the pelvis.

  • Adenomyosis: This is a condition where the inner lining of the uterus grows into the muscle wall, causing pain and heavy bleeding.

  • Arteriovenous Malformation: A condition that may develop due to abnormnal communicating of the vein and arteries in the uterus following surgery or birth

How UAE Works

  • Mechanism of Action: UAE targets the blood vessels that supply fibroids and adenomyotic regions. By reducing the blood flow, the affected tissue doesn't get the nutrients it needs and eventually shrinks or dies.

  • The Procedure:

    • Access: Under local anesthesia and sedation, a tiny incision is made in the groin. Through this, a catheter is carefully navigated into the uterine artery using real-time X-ray guidance.

    • Embolization: Once in place, embolic agents (tiny particles) are released. These agents block the blood vessels feeding the fibroids or adenomyosis, cutting off their blood supply.

    • Completion: Once embolization is complete, the catheter is removed, and the small incision is bandaged.

Benefits of UAE?

  • Minimally Invasive: No large incisions or removal of the uterus. 

  • Shorter Recovery Time: Most patients go home the same day. 

  • Effective: Reduces fibroid and adenomyosis symptoms

  • Preserves the Uterus: A good option for women who still want to have children

Why UAE is Effective:

  • Selective Targeting: UAE directly addresses the blood supply of the fibroids or adenomyosis, making it highly targeted and effective.

  • Tissue Response: With the reduced blood supply, fibroids become deprived of essential nutrients, causing them to shrink. The same applies to adenomyotic regions.

Am I A Candidate For UAE?

Determining your eligibility for Uterine Artery Embolization (UAE), also known as uterine fibroid embolization (UFE), requires a thorough evaluation by a healthcare professional. At Houston Vein and Vascular, our experienced doctors can help determine if you are a suitable candidate for UAE. Here are some factors that are typically considered:

  1. Diagnosis: A confirmed diagnosis of uterine fibroids is necessary before considering UAE. Our doctors can utilize advanced imaging techniques, such as ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), to accurately diagnose and assess the size, number, and location of your fibroids.

  2. Symptom Severity: UAE is often recommended for women experiencing moderate to severe symptoms caused by uterine fibroids. Symptoms can include heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding, pelvic pain or pressure, frequent urination, and difficulty conceiving.

  3. Preservation of Uterus: UAE is a non-surgical, uterus-preserving procedure, making it an ideal choice for women who wish to retain their uterus. If future pregnancy or avoiding a hysterectomy is important to you, UAE may be a suitable option.

  4. Medical History: Your medical history will be carefully evaluated to ensure your overall health and suitability for UAE. Factors such as blood clotting disorders, previous surgeries, or specific medical conditions may impact your candidacy.

  5. Size and Number of Fibroids: The size and number of fibroids will be considered when determining your eligibility for UAE. While UAE can be effective for various fibroid sizes, exceptionally large fibroids or a high number of fibroids might require alternative treatment approaches.

  6. Minimally Invasive Preference: UAE is a minimally invasive procedure involving a small incision in the groin to access the uterus. If you prefer a less invasive option compared to traditional surgery, UAE may be a suitable choice.

  7. Personalized Consultation: Our doctors at Houston Vein and Vascular will provide a personalized consultation to assess your individual case. They will discuss the potential benefits and risks of UAE, address any concerns you may have, and help determine the most appropriate treatment plan based on your specific situation.

To find out if you are a candidate for UAE, we encourage you to schedule a consultation with our skilled doctors at Houston Vein and Vascular. They will conduct a comprehensive evaluation, consider your medical history and symptoms, and provide expert guidance to help you make an informed decision about your treatment options.

During The UAE Procedure

During UAE for treatment of your fibroids at Houston Vein and Vascular, you are given a local anesthetic and mild sedation medication, but remain awake. The UAE procedure begins with a tiny incision in your upper thigh or wrist. The doctor uses this incision to insert a catheter into your arteries and guide it near your prostate. Once the catheter is in position, an arteriogram (an X-ray in which dye is injected into the blood vessels) is done to map the blood vessels feeding the prostate. Next, Microspheres, tiny, round particles each about the size of a grain of sand, are injected through the catheter and into the blood vessels that feed your uterus and fibroids, reducing its blood supply. The doctor then repositions the catheter in order to treat the other side of your prostate, the same way as previously described. To inquire about minimally invasive fibroids treatment, contact us at Houston Vein and Vascular. 

Post-Procedure Expectations:
  • Initial Response: Mild to moderate pain and cramping are common, and pain relief medications are typically provided.

  • Recovery: Patients can usually resume normal activities within a few days to a week, though some may take a bit longer based on individual response.

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