It’s common to experience discomfort while recuperating in the early days after a major surgery or procedure. However, when discomfort turns to pain, patients should be evaluated and treated immediately. At VIVA EVE, our medical team is attentive to the needs of our patients, and take extra measures to make sure patients are kept comfortable. When patients report pain, we respond promptly. Here’s a look at the journey a patient goes through before, during, and after the UFE.
“When patients experience pain after undergoing the uterine fibroid embolization procedure (UFE), inflammation is usually the cause,” says Dr. Nithya Gopal, Fibroid Specialist. “In order to gain the upper hand on inflammation before it starts, we advise patients to follow our pre-op instructions, which include taking certain medications to help reduce pain going into the procedure.”
According to Patient Care Coordinator Jennifer Little, these instructions are always provided by a member of our Patient Care team. “We work in tandem with the doctors to provide patients with their medical instructions after their procedure is scheduled. In order to minimize confusion, our patient pre-op instructions are always printed on a blue sheet of paper, and our discharge instructions are always printed on a pink sheet of paper.”
Included with the instructions are pre-op medications patients are provided free of charge, which include Senna, Ibuprofen/Motrin, and Gabapentin. “We give anti-inflammatories prior to the procedure and we also give medicine that acts like fiber and stool softener,” explains Dr. Gopal. “These meds take a few doses before they get to a certain steady state in the bloodstream, so by taking them beforehand, you’re reducing the inflammation that leads to the pain, as well as the constipation.”
The day of the procedure, patients are asked to bring prescription pain medications for their recovery, which are available for pickup at their preferred pharmacy 24 hours before the procedure. During the procedure, patients are given moderate sedation to ensure they’re comfortable.
“The way this differs from deep sedation, or what people more likely refer to as ‘general anesthesia,’ is that you’re never actually on a ventilator,” says Dr. Ruchir Gupta, Anesthesiologist. “You’re always breathing on your own, but you’re in such a deep sleep that you don’t have any real understanding of what is happening around you. You don’t hear things, you won’t feel things, and you’re very comfortable.”
Patients undergoing a UFE can expect to wake up and begin the recovery process a few minutes after the procedure has ended. “It varies from patient to patient but in general, these are all medicines that are fast-on, fast-off. That is to say that whatever amount of time the procedure lasted, you can expect an additional five minutes on either end for your anesthesia. When they do wake up, they feel like they woke up from the best sleep of their life.”
The procedure typically takes one to one-and-a-half hours to perform followed by a two to three hour recovery supervised by our experienced doctors and nurses. During this period, our anesthesiologist closely evaluates the patient.
“When we evaluate you, we can tailor your pain management strategy to your condition,” says Dr. Gupta. “We at VIVA EVE have a whole spectrum of pain medication that we can administer. Every patient is a little bit different, so we don’t treat just one-size-fits all. We tailor our pain management to each patient’s needs and medical issues.”
When patients are discharged, they’re usually kept comfortable by following the regimen outlined on their discharge papers. However, patients are free to call the office at (888) 388-8805 (the phone number is helpfully listed right on the discharge instructions) if they have urgent questions or concerns. If the call is made outside our office hours, an answering service representative will help connect the patient with the doctor.
“If patients are feeling a lot of pain and discomfort, we squeeze them in to be seen by a doctor right away,” says Little. “If they can’t come in, which happens, we always have the doctor call them and give them further instructions. We do our best to promptly communicate the patient’s needs so that they are helped and treated as fast as possible.”
At VIVA EVE, we strive to provide exceptional patient care, before, during, and after patients undergo their life-changing UFE procedure. Our patient reviews and success stories highlight our commitment to those we treat, and we never forget that our priority is our patients.