Uterine artery embolization (UAE) is a procedure to treat fibroids without surgery. Uterine fibroids are noncancerous (benign) tumors that develop in the uterus (womb).
During the procedure, the blood supply of the fibroids is cut off. This typically causes the fibroids to shrink.
Uterine fibroid embolization; UFE; UAE
UAE is done by a doctor called an interventional radiologist.
You will be awake but you will not feel pain. This is called conscious sedation. The procedure takes about 1 to 3 hours.
The procedure is usually done this way:
- You receive a sedative. This is medicine that makes you relaxed and sleepy.
- A local painkiller (anesthetic) is applied to the skin around your groin. This numbs the area so you do not feel pain.
- The radiologist makes a tiny cut (incision) in your skin. A thin tube (catheter) is inserted into your femoral artery. This artery is at the top of your leg.
- The radiologist threads the catheter into your uterine artery. This artery supplies blood to the uterus.
- Small plastic or gelatin particles are injected through the catheter into the blood vessels that supply blood to the fibroids. These particles block the blood supply to the tiny arteries that carry blood to the fibroids. Without this blood supply, the fibroids shrink and die.
- UAE is done in both your left and right uterine arteries through the same incision. If needed, more than 1 fibroid is treated.