Carle's interventional radiologists perform minimally invasive procedures for uterine fibroids and pelvic congestion syndrome, common conditions women can experience beginning in their childbearing years and later.
What are uterine fibroids?
Uterine fibroids are benign tumors that occur in the smooth muscle, or myometrium, of the uterus.
Uterine Fibroid Symptoms
Some of the symptoms of uterine fibroids may include:
- Heavy bleeding
- Pelvic pain and pressure
- Abdominal fullness or bloating
- Bowel discomfort, e.g. constipation
- Urinary urgency and frequency
- Pain during intercourse
Uterine Fibroid Diagnosis
Uterine fibroids are diagnosed by performing a pelvic ultrasound followed by MRI. Then, a physician does a thorough examination of the entire uterus, which may include a hysteroscopy, which is a non-invasive procedure that uses a lighted tube to view the inside of the uterus.
Uterine Fibroid Embolization
Uterine fibroid embolization is an innovative, non-surgical fibroid treatment offered by the interventional Radiology specialists. Also known as uterine artery embolization, this technique provides women an effective yet minimally invasive alternative to hysterectomy and myomectomy, the surgical treatments traditionally used to treat fibroids. Our board-certified physicians have extensive experience in performing uterine fibroid embolization.
How It Works
The uterine arteries provide the majority of the blood supply to the uterus. Filled with blood vessels, this is why fibroids bleed so heavily. The strategy is to cut off the blood supply to the fibroids. This is done through embolization - an artificial blood clot created in a highly targeted fashion by the interventional radiologist.
Advantages of the Procedure
- Less post-procedure pain
- Just a small bandage at the incision site.
- Outpatient procedure performed with local anesthesia with IV sedation
- Very little downtime (most patients resume work and normal activity within one week)
Uterine Fibroid Embolization vs. Other Treatment Options
Until recently, for most patients, the treatment for fibroids was a hysterectomy. While this completely cured the fibroids, it also meant an end to a woman's ability to have children. Myomectomy was a step up in some ways, removing the fibroids from the uterine surface; unfortunately, however, in many cases, the fibroids grew back. We encourage women who come to Carle for evaluation and treatment to become educated about all the treatment options they may have for fibroids. You can review these options in consultation with your doctor and then make a truly informed treatment choice that is appropriate to your individual situation.
Pelvic Congestion Syndrome
Pelvic Congestion Syndrome (PCS), also known as pelvic venous insufficiency, occurs when varicose veins develop in the pelvis and around the ovaries. PCS can cause multiple symptoms including pain, irritable bladder, abnormal menstrual bleeding, vaginal discharge and varicose veins on vulva, buttocks or thigh.
Interventional radiologists treat these engorged veins with minimally-invasive therapy as an outpatient.