For women suffering from uterine fibroids, there often seems to be no desirable way out, especially at the point in which a hysterectomy has been offered as the final solution. Some women experience no noticeable symptoms from uterine fibroids, while others experience pain that hinders daily life. Surprisingly enough, 20-40% of women 20 years or older suffer from uterine fibroids and they occur in half of African American women.
Traditionally, women with uterine fibroids have had two options for resolution– either undergoing a hysterectomy or a myomectomy (surgical removal of the uterine fibroids). Many choose the first, with 150,000 hysterectomies each year triggered by unwanted uterine fibroid symptoms. However, to remedy what is becoming a frequent problem for more and more women, physicians have recently been putting an old tool to use- embolization.
While used in the past to aid in treating pelvic bleeding and trauma, these days embolization is also becoming a much more common and preferred way to treat uterine fibroids. Many women prefer to have their fibroids treated via embolization because the procedure is much less invasive and requires significantly shorter recovery times. Uterine fibroid embolization has an 85-92% success rate, while with a myomectomy, 10-30% of women experience a recurrence in fibroids. Furthermore, bypassing several days in the hospital for recovery and weeks of bedrest post-hysterectomy adds to the appeal of the procedure.
Embolizations are performed via a small puncture in the groin artery. The procedure takes roughly an hour to complete and is followed by a one-day stay in the hospital for intravenous pain medication. Women who undergo embolization are usually able to return to normal activity after just a week.