Uterine Fibroid Embolization

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Pre-Procedure Prep


• Fibroids (leiomyoma, myoma, fibromyoma, fibroleiomyoma)
• Benign smooth muscle tumor
• Most common benign pelvic neoplasm
• 50% of patients with fibroids have symptoms


• Symptomatic uterine fibroids in patients who would like to avoid surgery
Menorrhagia (most common)
Bulk symptoms
• Pelvic pain
• Pelvic pressure
• Urinary frequency
• Constipation


• Asymptomatic fibroids
• Pregnancy
• Pelvic malignancy suspected
• Uncorrectable bleeding diathesis
• Severe renal insufficiency
• Prior pelvic radiatio

Other Considerations:
• Size of fibroids or uterus is not contraindication
• Stalk size not a contraindication although pedunculated subserosal fibroids do not respond as well and are often good candidates for myomectomy
• IUD: may not be necessary to remove

Pre-Procedural Workup

• H&P with specifics regarding bleeding cycle and/or bulk symptoms
• Pap smear
• Consider endometrial biopsy for vaginal bleeding > 21 days or bleeding lasting longer than 10 days
• MRI before clinic visit although some operators will use ultrasound exclusively
• Submucosal fibroids deserve attention and patient education on risk of potential fibroid expulsion, infection or need for surgery
• Desire to preserve future fertility

Procedure Steps

Pre-Procedural Medications

• Routine prophylaxis recommended but no consensus on drug choice
• 1g Cefazolin (Ancef) IV
Pain control: 10 mg Dexamethasone 1 hour prior to procedure
Scopolamine patch for antiemetic

Intraprocedural Pain Control

• Fentanyl and versed
• Ketorolac (Toradol) 30 mg IV - administer after first uterine artery embolized
• Acetaminophen 1000 mg IV - administer after second uterine artery embolized
• Can give at many time points before, during or after UFE


• Uterine artery arises at 1st or 2nd branch from anterior division of internal iliac artery - best seen in contralateral oblique (~50%)
• UA may arise as trifurcation of UA, anterior division and posterior division - best seen ipsilateral oblique (~40%)
• Absent UA (1%) - look for ovarian supply
• Aberrant vascular supply: round ligament artery, internal pudendal, IMA


• Femoral or bilateral femoral access
• Radial

Select Uterine Artery

• Select internal iliac artery, preferably anterior division
• Contralateral or ipsilateral oblique: ovarian take-off can be seen best in either obliquity (contralateral oblique slightly more common). Puff contrast to identify take-off before DSA
• If uterine artery large enough, can catheterize directly with 4 or 5 Fr hydrophilic coated catheter
• Often, uterine artery catheterized with microcatheter: spasm less an issue and can bypass non-uterine branches
• Position microcatheter in horizontal segment of uterine artery - attempt to bypass cervicovaginal branch
• Obtain DSA in AP projection
Selecting the internal iliac artery ipsilateral to groin access
• Not an issue with radial access
• Not really an issue with femoral access
• Sos catheter - can pull catheter directly into internal iliac artery
• Waltman loop
• Roberts uterine catheter (RUC)

Embolize Uterine Artery

• Embolize to sub-stasis
• Pruned-tree appearance on DSA with sluggish flow in uterine artery for 5 or more cardiac beats
Embolic agent choice:
• Diameter of perifibroid plexus 500-800 μm - target for embolization
• Utero-ovarian anastomosis < 500 μm - avoid embolizing
Data supports:
• Particulate PVA - both 355-500 and 500-710 μm
• Embospheres 500-700 μm
• Embozene 700 μm

Following Embolization

• Administer 5 -10 ml (50-100 mg) of preservative free 1% lidocaine
• Remove microcatheter
• Consider flush aortogram to evaluate for ovarian supply to fibroids
• Remove sheath


Post-Procedural Care

Concept: multimodal therapy is more effective than increased amounts of narcotics
• Some admit overnight with dilaudid PCA
• IV hydration
• Antiemetics: 4-8 mg Zofran IV
• PO and IV pain control
• 15-30 mg IV Toradol Q 6-8 hours
Many patients can be discharged same day

Discharge Medications

• Oxycontin extended release 10 mg. 1 tab BID PO x 3 days
• Ibuprofen 800 mg PO Q8 hours x 3 days
• Percocet PRN
• Zofran 4 mg tabs PO Q6 hours PRN nausea
• Laxative: docusate (Colace) and senna (Senokot) both over-the-counter


• Patient education: needs to be alert for fever, chills, foul smelling discharge, increasing pain, which may indicate uterine infection.
• Phone call or clinic visit at 1 month
• Clinic visit 6 month
• MRI for troubleshooting issues such as signs of infection, fibroid expulsion, persistent vaginal discharge or incomplete resolution of symptoms


• Amenorrhea
• Prolonged vaginal discharge
• Fibroid expulsion: usually occurs within first 6 months
• Septicemia
• Pulmonary embolism
• Ovarian failure and premature menopause
• Postembolization syndrome: common


• Approximately 50% reduction in fibroid size
• Approximately 505 reduction in uterine size
• > 90% reduction in abnormal uterine bleeding and bulk symptoms
• On 5 year follow-up: Re-intervention rate: 26%

Important Trials:
• REST trial
• EMMY trial

Related Content

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Uterine Fibroid Embolization Literature

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Current Evidence on Uterine Embolization for Fibroids

This review will attempt to answer three important questions associated with uterine embolization. First, does uterine embolization relieve symptoms caused by uterine fibroids? Second, how well does the improvement in symptoms and quality of life after uterine embolization compare with standard surgical options for fibroids? Finally, how durable is the improvement in fibroid-related symptoms and quality of life after embolization?

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Join The Discussion


[1] Chehab MA, Thakor AS, Tulin-Silver S, et al. Adult and Pediatric Antibiotic Prophylaxis during Vascular and IR Procedures: A Society of Interventional Radiology Practice Parameter Update Endorsed by the Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiological Society of Europe and the Canadian Association for Interventional Radiology. J Vasc Interv Radiol. 2018;29(11):1483-1501.e2. doi:10.1016/j.jvir.2018.06.007
[2] de Bruijn AM, Ankum WM, Reekers JA, et al. Uterine artery embolization vs hysterectomy in the treatment of symptomatic uterine fibroids: 10-year outcomes from the randomized EMMY trial. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2016;215(6):745.e1‐745.e12. doi:10.1016/j.ajog.2016.06.051
[3] Dariushnia SR, Nikolic B, Stokes LS, Spies JB; Society of Interventional Radiology Standards of Practice Committee. Quality improvement guidelines for uterine artery embolization for symptomatic leiomyomata. J Vasc Interv Radiol. 2014;25(11):1737‐1747. doi:10.1016/j.jvir.2014.08.029
[4] Spies JB. Current evidence on uterine embolization for fibroids. Semin Intervent Radiol. 2013;30(4):340‐346. doi:10.1055/s-0033-1359727
[5] Smeets AJ, Nijenhuis RJ, Boekkooi PF, Vervest HA, van Rooij WJ, Lohle PN. Is an intrauterine device a contraindication for uterine artery embolization? A study of 20 patients. J Vasc Interv Radiol. 2010;21(2):272‐274. doi:10.1016/j.jvir.2009.10.016
[6] Pisco JM, Bilhim T, Duarte M, Santos D. Management of uterine artery embolization for fibroids as an outpatient procedure. J Vasc Interv Radiol. 2009;20(6):730‐735. doi:10.1016/j.jvir.2009.01.029
[7] Goodwin SC, Spies JB. Uterine fibroid embolization. N Engl J Med. 2009;361(7):690‐697. doi:10.1056/NEJMct0806942
[8] Gonsalves C. Uterine artery embolization for treatment of symptomatic fibroids. Semin Intervent Radiol. 2008;25(4):369‐377. doi:10.1055/s-0028-1103001
[9] Hehenkamp WJ, Volkers NA, Birnie E, Reekers JA, Ankum WM. Symptomatic uterine fibroids: treatment with uterine artery embolization or hysterectomy--results from the randomized clinical Embolisation versus Hysterectomy (EMMY) Trial. Radiology. 2008;246(3):823‐832. doi:10.1148/radiol.2463070260
[10] Chrisman HB, Minocha J, Ryu RK, Vogelzang RL, Nikolaidis P, Omary RA. Uterine artery embolization: a treatment option for symptomatic fibroids in postmenopausal women. J Vasc Interv Radiol. 2007;18(3):451‐454. doi:10.1016/j.jvir.2006.12.723
[11] Mara M, Fucikova Z, Maskova J, Kuzel D, Haakova L. Uterine fibroid embolization versus myomectomy in women wishing to preserve fertility: preliminary results of a randomized controlled trial. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2006;126(2):226‐233. doi:10.1016/j.ejogrb.2005.10.008

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