A Serious Look into Uterine Artery Embolization

By: James Pendergraft

A uterine artery embolization or UAE is known to be an alternative to surgical procedures that could correct uterine fibroids. There are three main kinds of uterine fibroids and these are the subserosal, intramural, and submucous. If you have any of these three kinds of fibroids, the options for treatment might be limited. However, these are also dependent on whether there are organs affected by the fibroids and the symptoms you are experiencing.

Uterine Artery Embolization is Less Invasive

Although a myomectomy, which is a surgical operation that entails tumor removal from the uterus, could be done to address uterine fibroids, UAE is often considered as an alternative treatment for this. This is because it is a non-surgical operation that only calls for minimal invasiveness as a procedure.

Because uterine fibroids require blood supply in order to develop and flourish, uterine artery embolization is done with a focus on the arterial system. The doctor will determine the uterine arteries before he will proceed with the treatment. This is usually done through an x-ray followed by tiny particles injected into the arteries that supply blood to the fibroids.

The particles injected will impede the blood flow to the fibroids thus stopping excessive bleeding. This will also cause the shrinking of the fibroids over a period of time.

Disadvantages of Uterine Artery Embolization

In studies performed to determine the effects of uterine artery embolization, researchers found that while this procedure might be safe for some patients, it required additional surgery for others. There are also women whose symptoms returned five years after the procedure was done.

Another complication that was noted with having a uterine artery embolization is that it can bring on heavy vaginal bleeding. There was a study that showed women who had abnormal bleeding after going through the operation to have their intramural fibroids treated. When an endometrial biopsy was done, it was discovered that these women had necrotic fibroids, which happens when the tissues died because of a lack of blood supplied to the arteries.

After a while, the women were diagnosed of having a septic uterus, thus requiring hysterectomy. Because of this study, it was concluded by doctors that while uterine artery embolization might be safe, it still carries a high risk for infection, especially when done to correct intramural fibroids that are found near the uterine lining. This is because dead tissue is usually what attracts the development of bacteria.

If you are considering a uterine artery embolization for treating fibroid tumors, it is best to first have consultations with your doctor about other options and the possible complications that might arise from the procedure. It is important that you understand the risks involved, so you are making an informed decision.

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