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June 2010 | 0 Comments | Print

Stop uterine fibroids without surgery

With Daniel E. Long, MD, medical director of interventional radiology with The Christ Hospital

Uterine fibroids affect 20 to 40 percent of women ages 35 and older. These noncancerous growths develop in the muscular uterus wall and, while they usually don’t have symptoms, can cause heavy bleeding, prolonged monthly periods and extreme pain — all of which have a significant impact on a woman’s life.

Shrinking fibroids

According to Daniel E. Long, MD, medical director of interventional radiology with The Christ Hospital, uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) is a nonsurgical alternative to myomectomy (surgical fibroid removal) and hysterectomy (surgical uterus removal) to treat fibroids. During the UFE procedure, the patient is sedated before an interventional radiologist – a board-certified physician who specializes in minimally invasive, targeted treatments – inserts a catheter into an artery through a small incision at the top of the thigh. Using x-ray technology, small particles are injected into the artery, which block the flow of blood to the fibroid, causing it to shrink.

Following the surgery, symptoms usually improve within one to two menstrual cycles, and fibroids shrink by at least 60 percent and continue to reduce in size for up to a year. The entire UFE procedure usually takes less than an hour. Some women can go home the same day; others remain in the hospital overnight for observation and to be treated for any discomfort. Many women resume light activities in a few days with the majority returning to normal activity within a week. Of the women treated at The Christ Hospital for fibroids, about 90 percent who had excessive bleeding and 85 percent who had pelvic pressure, bloating and urinary frequency have had a significant decrease in persistent symptoms.

Is UFE for you?

UFE patients enjoy shorter hospital stays, faster recovery periods and fewer complications than hysterectomy patients. Because it uses a minimally invasive technique, UFE can safely treat women with other health problems. Your gynecologist and interventional radiologist can help you decide if UFE is right for you. Ideal candidates include women past childbearing age who have troublesome symptoms and want to avoid hysterectomy.

Board-certified diagnostic radiologists Daniel E. Long, MD; Joseph Bernstein, MD; and James Traiforos, MD, are here to help. To learn more about UFE or to schedule an appointment with one of our physicians, call The Christ Hospital at 877-904-4YOUor visit

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