What is it?
You may have heard recently about a new treatment for fibroid
tumors of the uterus called fibroid embolization. Fibroid tumors can
cause uncontrolled bleeding and pain. They are usually treated by
removing the tumors surgically or with a hysterectomy. Fibroid
embolization is a new, non-surgical treatment for fibroids. Unlike
treatment by way of a hysterectomy, fibroid embolization does not
leave the woman sterile.
How it Works
In fibroid embolization, a catheter is guided into the arteries that
supply the uterus with blood. Then small plastic or gelatin sponge
particles are injected into the artery to reduce the blood flow. This
procedure appears to result in nearly complete symptom relief and
tumor reductions of about half within 9 months after the procedure
is performed. Fibroid embolization requires one day in the
hospital, followed by about 7 to 10 days of rest at home. Most
women who have undergone fibroid embolization find that their
menstrual bleeding is reduced and that pelvic pain and pressure
are nearly completely vanquished.
Caution is in Order
This procedure is recommended as a safe alternative to women
past childbearing age. This procedure is not one that is done to
preserve childbearing ability. The placenta needs a good uterine
wall blood supply to grow the fetus. However, some patients have
gone on to become pregnant. The success of these pregnancies
is not known, and women are still encouraged to avoid conception
after a fibroid embolization procedure.
The doctors did not address sexuality issues. Blood supply to the
pelvis is an important part of the female sexual response. This
issue needs to be evaluated. Also, the doctors did not address the
issue of their patients' age. They suggest their study involved
peri-menopausal women. Fibroid related problems sometimes
resolve themselves as women reach menopause. Part of these
doctors' good results may have happened over the course of the
year naturally, even if they had not tried their new procedure.