Fibroids can be a crippling complication in your life, and if you suffer from them, you understand how true this is.
Heavy periods, fatigue, pelvic pain, and incontinence are just a few of the frustrating symptoms that affect your life. There are several fibroid treatment options available including hysterectomy (the complete removal of the uterus), or a less invasive procedure called a uterine fibroid embolization (UFE). But how do you know which one is right for you?
Eliminating One Option
Although a hysterectomy is a common solution to uterine fibroids, it is not for everyone. If you are considering UFE or a myomectomy, the one question you must have already answered is, “Yes, I want to keep my uterus if there are other treatment options.” The next step is to decide between these other two procedures.
Myomectomy is the surgical removal of fibroids in a hospital setting. It is performed under general anesthesia and can be accomplished three ways by a surgeon:
- The most common approach is to reach the uterus through a large incision in the abdomen.
- Another approach is to use a scope which is inserted into the vagina. This procedure is known as a hysteroscopic myomectomy.
- The third option is via a series of small incisions in the abdomen known as a laparoscopic myomectomy.
Depending on the size of the fibroid(s) there can be a risk of hemorrhage since the blood supply to the uterus is not affected by this procedure. There is also the risk of needing a blood transfusion, particularly for larger fibroids. In cases like these a myomectomy may ultimately require converting to a hysterectomy.
Uterine Fibroid Embolization
UFE is an alternative to surgery and is performed by an interventional radiologist. This minimally invasive procedure commonly takes less than an hour and typically only requires conscious sedation.
The fibroids are not surgically removed, but instead a very thin tube called a catheter is inserted into the groin or wrist. This catheter is safely guided to the uterine arteries. The next step involves injecting tiny particles to block the blood vessels and arteries that supply needed blood to the fibroid. Without the supply of blood and nutrients, the fibroid will shrink and ultimately die. With time, the symptoms will lessen or resolve totally within approximately three months.
By comparison, there is no risk of conversion from a uterine fibroid embolization to a hysterectomy. However, there are a few rare complications you should aware of including premature menopause and fibroid expulsion from the uterus which can lead to infection.
Different Treatments – Different Recovery Times – Different Outcomes
A myomectomy requires a hospital stay and six to eight weeks of recovery time.
UFE is performed as an outpatient procedure and takes less than a week for recovery. Sometimes there may be some nausea and pain for 24 hours after the procedure.
Outcomes of a myomectomy vs a UFE are dependent on the size of the fibroid(s) and their location in the uterus. There is some dispute about which of these treatments provide the best outcome, especially with regard to recurring fibroids and if the patients will eventually require a hysterectomy.
Only you and your physician can make that determination. Speak with Florida Women’s Health at (352) 369-5999 about which treatment option for fibroids will provide your best outcome.