Uterine artery embolization (UAE)

Uterine artery embolization (UAE) is a minimally invasive procedure performed to treat uterine fibroids (UFE.) The procedure can also be performed to treat adenomyosis. During the UAE/ UFE procedure, highly-trained interventional radiologists use a special x-ray device to guide a thin, flexible “spaghetti-like” tube called a catheter to the artery supplying the uterus and deliver small particles. These block the blood flow to the uterus, causing the fibroids to shrink. Adenomyosis is a condition with abnormal growth of the inner uterine lining, entering the muscle wall of the uterus. It can cause pelvic pain, menstrual cramps, heavy bleeding during periods, lower abdominal pressure, and bloating before menstrual periods.

Patients are typically discharged in a few hours after the procedure and recover at home. They should be able to go back to their routine in about 2 days.

How should I prepare?

  • Tell your doctor about all the medications you take, including herbal supplements. List any allergies, especially to local anesthetic, general anesthesia or to contrast materials. Your doctor may tell you to stop taking aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or blood thinners before your procedure.
  • Tell your doctor about recent illnesses or other medical conditions.
  • Women should always inform their physician and x-ray technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant. Many imaging tests are not performed during pregnancy so as not to expose the fetus to radiation.
  • In most cases, you should take your usual medications, especially blood pressure medications. Take these with sips of water on the morning of your procedure
  • Other than medications, your doctor may tell you to not eat or drink anything for up to 6 hours before your procedure.