What Is Uterine Fibroid Embolization?

Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE), sometimes known as uterine artery embolization (UAE), is a minimally invasive procedure that treats fibroids by blocking their blood supply, causing them to shrink. UFE is an alternative treatment to other available courses, such as hormonal therapy or surgery.  UFE is available through the Mass General Fibroid Program.

How to Prepare for Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE)

  • Consultation - Before your UFE appointment, we will image the uterus using MRI or ultrasound to ensure the fibroid tumors are the cause of your symptoms. It helps us fully assess the size, number and location of the fibroids. Your gynecologist may take a direct look at the uterus by performing a laparoscopy. If bleeding is a major symptom, an endometrium biopsy may be done to rule out cancer.
  • When To Arrive - Arrival time varies according to procedure. We will tell you what time to arrive when you make your appointment.
  • Eating - Please do not eat solid foods, candy or gum after 10 pm on the night before your procedure. We may need to reschedule your procedure if you do.
  • Drinking - Please drink only clear liquids after 10 pm on the night before your procedure. Stay hydrated by drinking one or two tall glasses every one to two hours while you are awake. Please stop drinking anything three hours before your procedure.
  • Medications - Please take your regularly scheduled medications with a sip of water. If you are currently taking any anti-coagulation medications, such as Coumadin®, Eliquis® or Plavix®, please call your referring physician for holding instructions at least five days before your procedure.
  • Pregnancy - Please let us know if there is any possibility you could be pregnant. We often do not perform imaging during pregnancy because radiation can be harmful to the fetus. If an X-ray is necessary, precautions will be taken to minimize radiation exposure to the baby.

What happens after uterine fibroid embolization?

People who undergo uterine fibroid embolization will experience varying degrees of pelvic pain and discomfort. The discomfort is most severe in the first 24 hours and gradually resolves over the following one to two weeks. During this time, some patients also experience mild to moderate fatigue.

At Mass General, the majority of these procedures are done on an outpatient bases, though a small percentage of patients may be admitted overnight if discomfort is not controlled prior to discharge.