Health News Articles

Uterine Fibroid Embolization: An Effective Treatment for a Common Problem

Aug 3, 2013

When Angelina Ruggiero looked at her options for treating an uncomfortable uterine fibroid, she decided to try a radiological procedure called uterine fibroid embolization.

Ruggiero, a resident of Robbinsville, needed an effective treatment option with a quick recovery so she could get back to her job working as an aquatic therapist for dogs.

A friend recommended she consult David Youmans, MD. Dr. Youmans and Donald Denny, MD, are both interventional radiologists at University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro (UMCPP) who perform uterine fibroid embolization.

A Very Common Problem
Fibroids are benign tumors of the wall of the uterus. An estimated 70 to 80 percent of women will have fibroids during their lives, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Fortunately, most fibroids do not cause symptoms, but when they do, women may develop heavy menstrual bleeding or pressure symptoms. In Ruggiero’s case, a large fibroid was causing bloating, discomfort and frequent urination, which was disrupting her sleep and her ability to do her physically demanding job.

“I was exhausted and extremely uncomfortable,” she says. “My quality of life was suffering—I started to feel really down all the time.”

Treatment options for fibroids have traditionally included hormonal medications, hysterectomy and myomectomy, a surgery to remove fibroids without removing the uterus.

“For many women, fibroid embolization offers another choice that is less invasive than having surgery,” says Dr. Denny, who is board certified in diagnostic radiology and vascular and interventional radiology. “Women can be home and back on their feet within a day and typically back to work within one to two weeks.”

An Endovascular Procedure

Fibroid embolization is an endovascular procedure performed by an interventional radiologist in which a tiny catheter is threaded through a puncture in the femoral artery in the groin area to the uterine arteries in the pelvis. Then a liquid composed of microscopic, harmless particles is injected through the catheter.
“The particles gradually plug up the blood vessels to a fibroid,” says Dr. Youmans, who is Chairman of the Department of Radiology and board certified in diagnostic radiology and vascular and interventional radiology. “This cuts off blood flow, causing the fibroid to gradually shrink and die.”

The non-invasive procedure is performed in a state- of-the-art interventional suite designed specifically for image-guided procedures. Most patients go home the following day.

“What a difference it has made in my life,” says Ruggiero, who had the procedure in October 2012. “I feel absolutely fantastic. There’s no bloating, no discomfort. I actually had to buy smaller clothes.”

Patients can be referred by an OB/GYN or self refer. To find an interventional radiologist who performs fibroid embolization, call 1.888.PHCS4YOU (1.888.742.7496) or visit www.princetonhcs.org.