A nonsurgical treatment for uterine fibroids, known as uterine fibroid embolization (UFE), has a five-year success rate of 73%, says a recent study of 182 women.

UFE is an interventional radiology treatment that blocks the blood supply to fibroid tumors, causing them to shrink and die. Because it is minimally invasive, the treatment offers a faster recovery time than surgery and preserves the uterus—two factors that have made UFE increasingly popular.


"Some gynecologists have been waiting for long-term data before being comfortable recommending the UFE procedure, and now that we have that data, I think patients will be hearing more about UFE as a nonsurgical option," says principal investigator Dr. James B. Spies, professor of interventional radiology at Georgetown University Medical Center.

"The [study] results are comparable to myomectomy, a procedure in which the fibroids are surgically removed. However UFE is less invasive, and women recover from it more quickly," Spies explains.

Myomectomy may be performed laparoscopically or through an abdominal incision.

“With any of the uterine-sparing treatments, growth of new fibroids is possible," he notes. However, the rate of recurrence after UFE is similar to that of myomectomy.

The next step is to determine which patients are best suited for each treatment, Spies says.

Uterine fibroids are common benign growths that develop in the muscular wall of the uterus. Fibroids result in approximately 200,000 hysterectomies annually.
The National Uterine Fibroids Foundation has more about uterine fibroids at www.nuff.org.

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