169 Riverside Drive, Binghamton, NY 13905
Phone: 607-798-5225 ext. 2096
Uterine Fibroid Embolization is a treatment of fibroids that
blocks the arteries that supply blood to the fibroids. It is a
minimally invasive procedure, which means it requires only a tiny
nick in the skin, and is performed while the patient is sedated -
and feeling no pain.
Fibroid embolization at Lourdes is done in the hospital by an
interventional radiologist, a physician who is specially trained to
perform this and other minimally invasive procedures.
What Are Uterine Fibroids?
Uterine fibroids are the most common pelvic tumors in women,
occurring in approximately 30% of women over the age of 35.
Although fibroids are benign (non-cancerous), they may produce a
wide variety of symptoms including excessive bleeding leading to
iron deficiency anemia and lethargy, pain and pressure sensations,
and even obstruction of the bowel or urinary tract.
The exact causes for fibroid development are unclear, but
researchers have linked them to both a genetic predisposition and a
subsequent development of susceptibility to hormone stimulation.
Women may have a genetic predisposition to fibroid development and
then subsequently develop factors that allow fibroids to grow under
the influence of a number of hormones. This would explain why
certain ethnic groups or racial groups are more likely to develop
fibroids and also why there tends to be genetic predisposition in
Fibroids range greatly in size from very tiny (a quarter of an
inch) to larger than a cantaloupe (10 inches or more). In some
cases they can cause the uterus to grow to the size of a five-month
pregnancy and the woman looks as though she is pregnant. In most
cases, there is more than one fibroid in the uterus.
The interventional radiologist makes a small nick in the skin
(less than one-quarter of an inch) in the crease at the top of the
leg to access the femoral artery, and inserts a tiny tube
(catheter) into the artery. Local anesthesia is used so the needle
puncture is not painful. The interventional radiologist steers the
catheter through the artery to the uterus using X-ray imaging
(fluoroscopy) to guide the catheter's progress. The catheter is
moved into the uterine artery at a point where it divides into the
multiple vessels supplying blood to the fibroids. An arteriogram (a
series of images taken while radiographic dye is injection) is
performed to provide a road map of the blood supply to the uterus
The interventional radiologist slowly injects tiny plastic
(polyvinyl alcohol or PVA) or gelatin sponge particles the size of
grains of sand into the vessels. The particles flow to the fibroids
first, wedge in the vessels and cannot travel to other parts of the
body. Over several minutes, the arteries are slowly blocked. The
embolization is continued until there is nearly complete blockage
of the blood flow in the vessel.
The procedure is then repeated on the other side so the blood
supply is blocked in both the right and left uterine arteries. Some
physicians block both uterine arteries from a single puncture site,
while others puncture the femoral artery at the top of both legs.
After the embolization, another arteriogram is performed to confirm
the results. The skin puncture where the catheter was inserted is
cleaned and covered with a bandage. The procedure takes
approximately 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
As a result of the restricted blood flow, the tumor (or tumors)
begin to shrink, and symptoms resolve.
Where to go.
For information on where to go when you arrive for your
appointment, visit our Where
to Go page.
For more information contact Deb or Sue
in the Lourdes Radiology Department at 607-798-5225 ext.
Fibroid Embolization images.