A Guide to the Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) Procedure
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It is estimated that 70% of women will develop uterine fibroids by age 50. While some fibroids do not cause symptoms others can cause bloating, heavy bleeding and pelvic pain. Women seeking relief from these symptoms are often told that a hysterectomy, or surgical removal of the uterus, is their only option.

VasCare is proud to offer a minimally invasive treatment and surgery alternative known as Uterine Fibroid Embolization or UFE. Read on to learn more about UFE and what to expect during treatment.

What Is UFE & Why Is it a Great Option for Fibroid Sufferers?

Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) is a non-surgical treatment for fibroids. During a UFE, the doctor injects microscopic particles into the uterine arteries, which supply blood to the fibroids.

These microscopic particles then block the blood supply to the fibroids causing the fibroids shrink and the patient’s symptoms ease over time.

Microscopic particles being injected into uterine arteries
Microscopic particles being injected into the uterine artery.

Benefits of UFE

  • Preserves your uterus and may maintain normal fertility: all the work is done inside the blood vessels, keeping the uterine tissue intact
  • Minimally invasive: performed through a pin-sized hole in the patient’s leg or wrist
  • Short recovery time: the procedure is outpatient and a fully recovery is expected in 1-2 weeks after surgery
  • Efficient: we typically treat all a patient’s fibroids in one to two procedures roughly six weeks apart to make recovery at home easier. 

Low complication rate: mild sedation is used so the risks of general anesthesia are not present. Also, compared to hysterectomy or myomectomy, there is less risk of major bleeding or pelvic infection after UFE.

Am I a Candidate for UFE?

If you’ve been diagnosed with uterine fibroids, you can use our quick self-assessment tool to find out if you might be a good candidate for UFE.

Generally speaking, UFE is a good fit for most women. Exceptions include those with contrast dye allergies or who are currently pregnant. If you wish to become pregnant in the future, it’s recommended to discuss your fertility plans with your doctor before proceeding with UFE.

If you’re a good candidate, read on to learn what you can expect of your UFE procedure.

Before, During, and After the UFE Procedure


Because you will be under mild to moderate sedation during your treatment, you will need to stop food and drink prior to your appointment. If you are taking blood thinners and/or diabetic medications containing Metformin you will need to hold those, as well. 

The exact prep timing will depend on your appointment time. Your doctor will give you clear instructions on this and whether you need to pause medications ahead of time. You will have a pregnancy test to take before the procedure starts.


On the day of your treatment, after checking in you’ll change into a hospital gown and remove jewelry and other personal items. We will then place an IV in your arm that will deliver a sedative.

The UFE Treatment

Once you are comfortable on the X-ray table the procedure prep will begin. First, we will sterilize the incision site (wrist or groin) by cleaning the area. Next, we will use a local anesthetic to numb the area and a small skin needle stick will be made for the catheter placement.

After the catheter is placed, using an X-ray machine the radiologist will advance the micro catheter from the radial or femoral artery to the iliac artery. Once there, a contrast dye is injected through the catheter to help determine which smaller arteries are feeding the fibroids.  Next, tiny microscopic particles are injected into the artery to stop the blood flow and achieve the embolization.  

At this time the radiologist will determine if there are additional arteries needing treatment. If there is another artery feeding the fibroids, it will receive an injection of microscopic particles also, as well as more follow-up contrast dye to confirm successful placing of the particles. Once this is done, the embolization is complete.

The embolization process lasts from 30 minutes to an hour.


To finish up the treatment, the arterial catheter is gently removed and the small puncture site bandaged. In the recovery room, you may be given pain medication if it’s needed. 

As UFE is an outpatient procedure, you will be able to go home the same day of your appointment.

Your Recovery at Home

Compared to surgery, you’ll find the recovery after UFE much more manageable. You’ll have no dietary restrictions but should avoid sexual intercourse and tampon usage until the doctor gives the okay.

You may experience some pelvic pain and pressure in the first few days after your appointment, and/or fever, chills, and low energy levels. We may prescribe you some anti-nausea and/or pain medication to use during this time. 

It can take a week or two–or longer in some cases–before you are fully recovered and able to resume all normal activities. We will schedule a follow-up appointment in the weeks after surgery  to assess your progress.

You should expect your first menstrual cycle to be heavier and/or more uncomfortable than is typical. Breakthrough bleeding in between cycles is also common at first. But after three months you should be noticing improvements in your fibroid symptoms as the fibroids continue to shrink for several months afterward.

UFE Has a Track Record of Success

By any benchmark, UFE has remarkably positive outcomes:

  • Up to 92% of patients get effective relief from fibroid symptoms.
  • Fibroids are reduced in size by up to 83%.
  • Patient satisfaction is 90+%. 
  • The rate of major complications is just over 1%. 
  • UFE results in less time in the treatment room than with hysterectomy or myomectomy.
  • Patients spend a few hours at our center for the procedure and recovery, compared to five days with surgical treatments

Although new fibroids can develop after UFE, or previously embolized fibroids could reestablish a blood supply, it’s rare for these to happen. If it does, the fibroids tend to develop slowly and to not require any additional treatment.

Potential Complications of UFE

Even though UFE is considered a safe treatment, any medical procedure may carry certain risks, and UFE is no different.
However, the risk of complications is low and similar to hysterectomy and myomectomy. And research indicates that UFE patients have similar pregnancy rates to the general population.

Book a Consultation at VasCare

If you suffer from fibroids and think you might be a candidate for UFE, contact us today to schedule a consultation with a fibroid specialist at VasCare.