Treatment of Uterine Fibroid Tumors
Uterine Fibroids (leiomyomas) are non-cancerous smooth muscle tumors of the uterus. They occur in 20 to 50 percent of women, depending on age and race. Because most fibroids do not cause any symptoms, the actual incidence is unknown. They may cause pain, cramping, and chronic bleeding and are the most common cause of non-emergency uterine bleeding.
Fibroids also may cause “bulk symptoms” such as urinary frequency and urgency, constipation, and low back pain. They may cause pain during intercourse (dyspareunia) and problems with fertility and pregnancy. Approximately one-third of the 600,000 hysterectomies performed in the USA each year are to treat fibroids!
Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) is a newer, safe and effective procedure to treat symptomatic uterine fibroids. It is a high-tech alternative to traditional open surgical hysterectomy. It involves passing a very small catheter (see picture) into the uterine artery, and injecting tiny particles into the fibroids, killing them non-surgically (see diagrams). It is safer than traditional surgery, involves no significant blood loss, and allows a much more rapid return to normal activities (one week vs. 5-6 weeks for hysterectomy). Many women are not told about this newer option by their doctors, and are instead steered towards the traditional surgery. Patients who have been told that hysterectomy is their only option are invited to see us and get a second opinion.
Our doctors performed the first UFE procedure in Illinois ten years ago, and have helped many patients avoid hysterectomy since then. We were a core site for the FIBROID Registry research project, the largest scientific study of the procedure ever performed. Recently, our doctors performed the first successful UFE on a gorilla, at the Brookfield zoo in Brookfield, Illinois. To schedule a consultation, call us at (630) 856-7460.