Uterine fibroid embolization

Uterine fibroid embolization involves withdrawing the blood supply to the fibroids. Using local anesthetic, the interventional radiologist slides a catheter across the femoral artery to the vessels supplying the fibroid. The radiologist then uses X-ray fluoroscopy to spray small, biologically-compatible tiny plastic particles into the artery which settle in the finest branches and block said branches. This causes the fibroids to shrink and the symptoms start to abate or disappear completely. The blood supply to the uterus is not at risk.


The procedure is minimally invasive, no anesthetic is required and the patient only has to stay in hospital for around 3 days.


The patient often suffers severe pain and cramp in the first 2 days following a uterine fibroid embolization which requires them to undergo intensive treatment for the pain using medication. The treatment is carried out using X-ray fluoroscopy. This means that the pelvis will absorb ionizing radiation. This may reduce the blood supply to the uterus or the placenta for subsequent pregnancies. There is a very uncommon risk of the ovarian artery being blocked by the plastic particles which may lead to infertility.