The normal hospital stay is 1 night.
Recovery varies - one woman went to a party the day after leaving hospital, buy but normally women return to work in 1-5 weeks.
Again this varies a lot, but some women get flu-like symptoms and will need some care at home for a few weeks.
Unlike surgery there is no restriction to movement, driving, lifting etc. A normal sex life can be resumed and there are no adverse effects on the enjoyment of and desire for sex. Pleasure may be enhanced as general health and heavy bleeding etc will have improved.
Some women (5-7%) can develop a high temperature approximately 10 days after embolisation. This is part of the fibroids breaking down, but needs to be differentiated between infection and the post-embolisation syndrome. If this happens the radiologist or GP should be called.
Abnormal periods and bleeding may occur for a few months, although this varies widely. There is a vaginal discharge for a few weeks, although this can go on for longer in a few cases.
In 2.8 - 7% of women fibroids can be expelled - delivered through the vagina. This sometimes requires assistance from the radiologist or gynaecologist. It is not a painful process and the women may be pleased to be rid of it/them. This can happen up to 2 years after the procedure.
A few women (1%) get an infection, which needs to be treated with antibiotics.
Embolisation is much safer than hysterectomy with lower mortality rates and serious adverse side effects.
Embolisation is successful in 84-93% of women. The fibroids shrink approximately 60% (44-100%).More recent studies with follow up after 5 years, have shown that fibroids continue to shrink and eventually disappear, even large ones.
The vast majority of women are relieved of their symptoms of heavy and painful periods (85%) and pressure symptoms (78%). Patients are very satisfied with the treatment and the vast majority would have it again.
Click on the image for a larger version of MRI scans showing fibroids pre and post the embolisation procedure.
Apart from a serious infection there are few long-term side effects from embolisation. In some (0.25-7%) there is an infection or the reduction in fibroid size can be insufficient and they will go on to have a hysterectomy. Some women develop a persistent discharge. This usually resolves spontaneously or with hysteroscopy.
Women will maintain fertility and some go on to have successful pregnancies if they desire. There have been at least 50 successful pregnancies so far. A small percentage of women develop amenorrhoea (periods stop). This usually resolves, but persists in 1-7%.
Any procedure can result in infection or DVT (deep vein thrombosis - a potentially dangerous blood clot usually in the leg). Both are much less likely to occur with embolisation than surgery.
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Our Survey and Guidelines
Thanks to all who took part in our survey about the information and choices for their fibroid treatment. Please click here for the Patient Information and Choice Survey report and here for our report on access to UFE treatment with The Medical Technology Group and All Party Parliamentary Group on Improving Patient Access to Medical Technologies.
You MUST be offered an alternative to hysterectomy. Download the quick reference guide to the NICE guidelines.
Please download a guide for patients – Improving Your NHS: What you can Expect