Research has shown that uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) can provide a good treatment option for women with large fibroids.
Research on large fibroids
In the past, UFE was believed to only be safe and effective in treating small to medium fibroids. But that’s no longer the case.
“Previous thinking was that bigger fibroids often times resulted in internal necrosis (cell and tissue death), which implies that these fibroids have outgrown their blood supply,” explained Dr. Linda Anne Hughes, an interventional radiologist at North Broward Radiologists in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “Therefore doing an embolization, which cuts off blood supply to the fibroids, wouldn’t be as effective.”
But data now disputes such theories. A study published in Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiology1 compared the effectiveness of UFE in women with small fibroids less than 10 cm in diameter to women with large fibroids greater than 10 cm in diameter. The authors of the study found there were no significant differences in reported quality-of-life scores or in health complication rates following the procedure.
Large fibroid shrink with UFE
And these results aren’t unusual for UFE. “I’ve had fairly good experiences with treating large fibroids,” says Dr. Hughes. “On one extreme, the largest solitary fibroid I embolized was 20 cm. It only shrunk to 14 cm, which is still big, but clinically the patient was extremely satisfied and happy with the outcome.”
Embolizing large fibroids can dramatically improve symptoms, but every woman is different. “It depends on the individual and what the symptoms are,” Dr. Hughes continued. “Our definition of success is that we alleviate symptoms to the extent that patients don’t seek or desire further treatment.”
According to Dr. Hughes, UFE relieves fibroids by cutting off blood supply to the fibroid, which can:
- ease abnormal bleeding
- cause the fibroid to shrink—ideally preventing further growth; and
- soften the fibroid to relieve pressure symptoms
“The fibroid will still be there,” Dr. Hughes added. “But if it’s smaller and softer, a lot of women experience adequate relief.”
However, no matter the effectiveness of the UFE procedure itself, Dr. Hughes attributes patient success to another vital piece of the care management plan. What does she encourage?
Active collaboration amongst patients and healthcare providers.
“What’s important is a team approach in terms of the interventional radiologist, the patient, and the gynecologist being involved in the care,” Dr. Hughes stressed. “This is what allows us to push the envelope with regard to size, with regard to fertility, and in terms of reaching out and being able to treat more patients.”
VIVA EVE: The Fibroid Experts can treat large fibroids
The doctors at VIVA EVE have years of experience in the treatment of both large and small uterine fibroids.
Specialists in UFE, we at VIVA EVE we are committed to providing high-quality, personalized care for every patient. We’ll work with you determine the best fibroid treatment options.