UTERINE FIBROID EMBOLISATION (UFE)
What are uterine fibroids?
- Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous tumours of the uterus. It is estimated that around 40-50% of women have uterine fibroids by the age of 35.
What is the traditional treatment for fibroids?
- Surgery can be considered for severe cases of uterine fibroids, where patients experience painful menstrual periods, pain during or after sexual intercourse, acute or severe pelvic pain, and bloating.
- One surgery to treat fibroids is a hysterectomy, which involves removal of part of, or the entire uterus. It is the only way to permanently treat fibroids. The surgery is generally used to remove large fibroids, and is used in cases where the woman does not wish to bear children anymore. However, a hysterectomy carries many potential negative side effects, such as urinary continence and compromised sexual function.
- Other treatments include myomectomy, where the abdomen is cut into to remove fibroids from the uterus while preserving healthy tissues; laparoscopic surgery where a keyhole incision is made in the abdomen and the fibroids are excised and removed; or hysteroscopic surgery, where a long, thin scope is passed through the vagina and cervix to reach the uterus before fibroid removal.
So, how does our treatment differ from traditional surgery?
- Uterine Fibroid Embolisation (UFE) is a minimally-invasive substitute for open surgery. The procedure is done via a femoral or radial artery access puncture. A catheter is guided using X-Ray fluoroscopy to the arteries which supply the fibroids. Small particles are injected through the catheter to permanently seal off the arteries that supply the fibroids, causing the fibroid to be reduced in size significantly, thus improving the symptoms experienced.
Who will get fibroids?
- Age is a risk factor
- Family history is a risk factor
- Women with an early-onset of menstruation
- Women who are obese
- Women who have a Vitamin D deficiency
- Women who have excessive alcohol consumption, or smoke
- Women with no pregnancy history
Who needs to treat fibroids?
- In some women, there may be mild or no symptoms at all. For others, symptoms of uterine fibroids may be very severe and require treatment to relieve pain. The symptoms include pain during or after sexual intercourse, pressure on the bladder resulting in frequent urination, acute or severe pelvic pain, an abnormal menstrual cycle, painful menstrual periods, and bloating.
What are the benefits of fibroid treatment using uterine fibroid embolisation as opposed to traditional surgery?
- The procedures are done either under local anaesthesia or light sedation, as opposed to general anaesthesia for stripping and ligation.
Patients experience minimal pain and discomfort.
- There is no surgical scar, as the entire procedure uses just needle punctures to access the affected veins.
- Patients will be able to return to their daily activities in a much shorter recovery time.
- The procedures can be done on an outpatient basis, and the patient can return to work on the same day.
How long does uterine fibroid embolisation take and what can patients expect?
- The procedure can be completed in a morning and takes only a few hours.
- Patients will be able to rest and recover in VIC's recovery suites, where patients are guaranteed highly personalised and professional care for a fast post-operative recovery.
What needs to be prepared before the UFE procedure?
- Diagnosis needs to be carried out, usually with an ultrasound scan of the uterus. If there are multiple fibroids, a CT/MRI scan is ordered instead.
How much is the UFE procedure?
- Payment will vary depending on the procedures with respect to each patient.
- Regardless, VIC is MediSave and MediShield Life accredited by MOH. We work with all major insurance companies for both Corporate and Personal Insurance Plans, as well as integrated shield plans. Depending on the type of insurance coverage and treatments, patients can have their bills covered partially or even fully via insurance and MediSave. We work to ensure that patients are able to enjoy a cashless payment process, by working with patients to apply for the necessary Letter of Guarantee (LOG) with their respective insurance companies.
How soon can I resume normal activities after fibroid treatment?
- UFE patients can resume their daily activities in as quickly as a week, as compared to 4 to 6 weeks for a myomectomy.
Meet Our Doctors!
- MBBS, FRCR, FAMS, CCST (UK)
- Dr Manish Taneja is a certified Neurointerventional Specialist and Vascular/Interventional Radiology Specialist. He is the Director of Neurointerventional and Interventional Radiology and the Consultant Neurointerventionalist at the Vascular & Interventional Centre.
Dr Benjamin Chua:
- MBBS (Singapore), MHSc (Duke), MRCSEd, FRCSEd (General Surgery), FAMS, Advanced Endovascular Surgery (Melbourne, Australia)
- Dr Benjamin Chua is the Medical Director and Senior Consultant Vascular Surgeon at the Vascular & Interventional Centre (VIC).