Uterine Artery Embolization


Experimental

Uterine Artery Embolization (UAE), also called Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE), is an experimental surgery currently being promoted as an alternative to hysterectomy or myomectomy as a treatment for uterine fibroids. This surgery uses a technique called embolization: a mass of microspheres (tris-acryl gelatin) or polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) material (an embolus) is injected into the uterine arteries in order to block the flow of blood through those vessels. The microsphere gelatin or PVA remains permanently in the uterine arteries. UAE attempts to shrink fibroids by cutting off their blood supply.

Invasive

First, an incision is made in the groin. Another incision is then made in the femoral artery. A catheter is inserted into the groin and pushed through the femoral artery, and into the uterine artery, where 300 to 1200µm microspheres (tris-acryl gelatin) or 300 to 700µm polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) particles (plastic) are permanently lodged inside the uterine artery.

Unreliable

Women are told that as the blood supply to the uterine arteries and fibroids is stopped, the fibroids will begin to shrink, become necrotic and die. However, not all fibroids do shrink. Continued growth of fibroids four years after embolization has been reported.

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