Uterine Fibroid Embolization Versus Hysterectomy
According to the government statistics, fifty to seventy-five percent of women will be diagnosed with uterine fibroids. These fibroids are made up of abnormal muscle cells and are always benign (non-cancerous). The risks are very low for the fibroids to ever become malignant (cancerous). These tumors will grow in and around the uterus walls. Women find that living with fibroid tumors can be quite bothersome. They are faced with making an informed decision of whether or not to undergo a complete hysterectomy.
Signs & Symptoms Of Uterine Fibroids
While many women with uterine tumors never experience any signs and symptoms, they plague others. Some very common signs include polyuria (excessive urination), painful intercourse, pain in lower back, and abnormal vaginal bleeding. More serious signs and symptoms include infertility (inability to get pregnant), miscarriages, and early labor for those women that are pregnant. Excessive bleeding can lead to anemia (low RBCs), which may require iron supplements or blood transfusions, in more severe cases.
A hysterectomy is a very invasive surgery, which is when the uterus (womb), Fallopian tubes, and the ovaries are removed. Most women are hesitant to commit to having this surgery, because the risks and complications are extremely high. Some risks that are common with a hysterectomy include;
Women can still face complications of a hysterectomy many years on down the road. It is not uncommon for women to experience bladder and rectal prolapse four to ten years post-hysterectomy.
Hormone therapy is another alternative to a hysterectomy. Many gynecologists want you to consider your options and may suggest trying to combat the fibroid tumors with hormone therapy drugs. Although this therapy will not eliminate the tumors altogether, it can help alleviate the irregular bleeding or bleeding between menstruation cycles. More often than not, oral contraceptives are prescribed in this case.
Uterine Fibroid Embolization
While uterine fibroid embolization procedure is an invasive procedure, it comes with fewer complications. Women are still capable of getting pregnant, but only after clearance from the gynecologist. This exhibits less risk for infections and bleeding, which is definitely a plus.
A catheter is inserted into the femoral artery by a radiologist and polyvinyl alcohol is injected into the uterine arteries that supply sufficient blood to the uterine tumors. This substance works by blocking the blood flow to the tumors, which will cause them to breakdown.
There is potential for some mild vaginal bleeding and some women have noted passing the fibroid through the vagina, but all of these are normal post-op symptoms. It is recommended, by most gynecologists, that you undergo an MRI or an ultrasound about six weeks after procedure, just to make sure that the procedure was effective.
Women should definitely take the time to consider their options, before having a complete or partial hysterectomy, especially if you are considering getting pregnant. Start out with hormone therapy, and then go to more aggressive treatments if necessary. Get a second professional opinion if it helps, you make a more informed decision.