Is Uterine Fibroid Embolization effective?
November 5, 2009 11:55 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for advice, insight, and experiences with uterine fibroid embolization. I'm meeting with a doctor next week, and want to make sure I'm asking all the right questions. Let me tell you about my lady parts!

After being misdiagnosed by my GP for about 4 months, I've finally confirmed that I have very large uterine fibroid tumors. The largest is 6 inches in diameter, and is pressing on my ureters and bladder causing enlarged kidneys (and making pee about every one to two hours). I've also been having other fun menstrual irregularities for the last year (bleeding for 6 weeks at a time, massive clots, bloating, but amazingly, very little cramping).

I've now met with Ob/Gyn who is recommending uterine fibroid embolization over hysterectomy. This is based on my age (36), lack of children (although I am 98% certain I don't want them), and the risks posed by hysterectomy because of the size of my tumor and uterus, and my weight (I'm fat). Her reasoning is that this will give me fairly immediate relief from my most bothersome symptoms, give me a couple more years to be certain about the children thing, and that should I need/want to have a hysterectomy in the future, it will be a much simpler surgery that she could do laproscopically once the size of my fibroids is reduced.

I know that this isn't a cure for fibroids, and that it does carry some risks of reduced fertility. But I am swayed by a less invasive procedure with a much shorter recovery time. Has anyone had uterine fibroid embolization done? Were the outcomes what you expected? How easy was the procedure and recovery?
posted by kimdog to Health & Fitness (4 answers total)
I have not had uterine fibroid embolization, but I have had a hysterectomy. Assuming you haven't already done so, I would also suggest you also post this question at Hyster Sisters, a great support group, resource center, etc. for questions about hysterectomy avoidance, procedures, alternatives, etc. The ladies there are incredibly knowledgeable.

I know this does not precisely answer your question, but hopefully it is still helpful.
posted by bunnycup at 12:39 PM on November 5, 2009 [2 favorites]

I was in the very same position as you are in with the fibroids. Very similar. My regular gyno wanted to do the hysterectomy. I thought that was pretty extreme for the problems the fibroids were causing. (I'd also heard he was quick to do such surgeries and I sought out a second opinion.)

I was glad I did. My new gyno suggested a specialist and he was able to do the fibroid removal surgery for me and all my other 'lady parts' are still intact. It required some delicate surgery, hence the specialist. This was a few years ago before the embolization was available, but I would have gotten that if I could have. The surgery had to cut through muscle in my abdomen and I had A LOT of downtime because of that.

And yes, it relieved all my problems from the fibroids and they haven't come back (yet). I would recommend going this route as it's the least invasive and will keep your options for children open - even though you are 98% sure today, that just might change later on down the line.

Good luck!
posted by NoraCharles at 1:01 PM on November 5, 2009

Thanks for the link to the Hyster Sisters... I had run across that a few weeks ago, but forgot about it.
posted by kimdog at 11:27 AM on November 6, 2009

I'm just home after having a harrowing experience with UFE. I won't say my experience is typical, but I would certainly encourage women with larger fibroids to ask their doctors lots of questions or do pre-testing in advance of the procedure.

The actual procedure went well for me. I was in the hospital for one night, a came home on Friday. For the next 48 hours I was experiencing increasingly more pain and my urine output was dropping off. First call to the doctor, he just told me to double up on pain meds. On Monday, I was in bad pain, and he told me to come back to the hopsital.

The short story, I spent 11 days in the hopsital with kidney failure. Basically, my tumor was already putting pressure on my urethras pre-surgery, and after the UFE, instead of immediately shrinking, the tumors became a bit swollen, completely blocking them off. No urine draining from the kidney= kidney failure.

I think I am going to be fine. Kidneys don't appear to be permanently damaged. At the moment, I am still have nephrostomy tubes/bags, and will be having them removed in a couple of days.. and I hope that will be the end of this saga.
posted by kimdog at 1:43 PM on December 18, 2009

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