Will UFE get rid of my fibroids completely?

UFE stops the symptoms of fibroids. They shrink as they die and they are no longer able to cause problems. The smaller fibroids may disappear and sometimes after the UFE treatment, the fibroids naturally leave the body. Typically though, the fibroid tissue stays in the body as a small cluster of scar tissue without doing any damage.

Will I still be able to get pregnant?

The answer is yes. Many healthy babies are born after UAE. That includes women who have been advised that they will never be able to get pregnant due to fibroid burden in their uterus. We have associated fertility specialists and gynaecologists who can advise each woman on their individual case.

Is there a possibility of damage to the ovaries?

In the vast majority of cases, ovaries resume normal function after UFE. Occasionally hormones can reduce for a short period. Ovarian dysfunction can occur after any pelvic procedure with the same likelihood. There is no greater risk of ovarian failure after UFE as compared to myomectomy and hysterectomy.

Do I need to have an MRI diagnosis beforehand?

Yes. Having an MRI is recommended. It offers excellent images of the soft tissues of the pelvis including the ovaries, the uterus. It helps the radiologist see if there are any other conditions besides fibroids and enables planning of the best therapeutic strategy.

What role does the gynecologist play?

For absolute security and peace of mind we direct our patients to an independent gynaecologist for an unbiased assessment to see if you indeed need to have the UFE treatment or if another treatment may be more suitable. Our recommended gynaecologists are committed to achieving the best outcome to suit each individual case. They all have many years of experience with fibroid conditions and will be instrumental in providing any aftercare required for women who have undergone UFE.

Why have I not been told about this treatment before?

Although UFE is a popular treatment, in South Africa there has been limited training and there aren’t that many local professionals qualified to do UFE. For this reason it hasn’t been widely exposed in South Africa. Internationally, it is a conventional widely accepted therapy for fibroids and adenomyosis recommended by gynaecologists and general practitioners.

Is it possible for my gynecologist to do the UFE procedure?

Although a gynaecologist is qualified to identify fibroids, the treatment needs to be done by a registered radiologist trained in interventional radiology.

Is hospitalization necessary?

Yes. There is special equipment and care needed for the UFE and patients need to stay overnight in hospital.

How much recovery time is needed?

A two week period of ‘sick leave’ is a general recommendation. Most women are back on their feet and fully functional after only one week.

Is the procedure available to HIV positive patients

Patients with a CD4 count above 200 are safe to undergo the procedure.

Does it matter if the fibroids are really big?

No matter what size the fibroids happen to be, the procedure will still work. Although large fibroids will not disappear,they will definitely shrink substantially when they die.The heavy and painful periods will improve dramatically.

How common is this procedure?

Over 100 000 women have had UFE with documented results. Although UFE has been performed for 30 years the lack of training in this field in South Africa has meant it hasn’t been widely used here. In developed countries, particularly North America, Europe and Australia UFE is supported and funded by local health systems both private and public.

Is it a lengthy procedure?

One can expect to be in the theatre ward for about an hour. Although surgery takes about 20 minutes, patients need an hour to recover from sedation. An overnight stay is required to make sure post operative recovery is comfortable.

How painful is it?

During the procedure the patient is sedated and so pain isn’t experienced at all. Afterwards it will feel similar to bad period pains with fairly strong cramps. Strong pain medication is given to patients directly after the procedure and also on discharge for home use.

What type of anesthetic is used?

It’s called conscious sedation. This means you will be asleep, unaware and won’t feel any pain. Conscious sedation differs from general anesthetic in that the patient does not require a ventilator.

What kind of particles are injected into the uterus and how long do they remain there?

The particles are more or less the size of small grains of sand. They obstruct the blood flow to the fibroids. They are an inert polymer and stay within the uterus permanently, incorporating into the fibroid and uterine muscle. They do not dislodge or cause any future problems.

How much can I expect to pay for the procedure?

The bulk of the cost is covered entirely by most medical aid or medical insurance companies. It is similarly priced to myomectomy and hysterectomy. Our charges are congruent with standard medical aid rates.

Are there any blood tests needed beforehand?

Routine blood tests include a blood count as pateints with uterine fibroids are often anaemic. Optimum kidney function is required as we need do to make sure the body can effectively process the intravenous radiological dye. We also check ovarian reserve and clotting parameters.

Are UFE and UAE different procedures?

They both describe the same procedure. UFE is Uterine Fibroid Embolisation and UAE is Uterine Artery Embolisation.

Can Adenomyosis be treated with UAE??

UAE is showing very promising long term efficacy in treating Adenomyosis. For more information click on the Adenomyosis tab.