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Uterine Artery Embolization: A Breakthrough Procedure for Uterine Fibroids

By:  Hope Waltman

 

Uterine fibroids are benign tumors of the uterus. They are not cancers, but can cause symptoms such as excessive bleeding during or between periods, pressure on the bladder or rectum, discomfort during sexual relations, or even interfere with fertility. 

The following uterine fibroid statistics are from the Society of  Interventional Radiology (SIR) website:  Approximately 177,000 to 366,000 hysterectomies and 35,000 myomectomies are performed annually for fibroids.  Annual charges for inpatient care for fibroids (primarily surgical) exceeding $2 billion (1997).  African-American women face an even higher incidence of uterine fibroids.  Refer to www.sirweb.org.

Robert Worthington-Kirsch, M.D., FSCVIR, has performed the most Uterine Artery Embolization (UAE) procedures in the world.  Dr. Kirsch has a medical practice in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at Roxborough Memorial Hospital. 

Dr. Worthington-Kirsch describes the UAE procedure as follows:  “The UAE procedure takes an average of 20 minutes.  The procedure itself is painless.  There is a single tiny incision over the hip, which is less than an inch long.  After inserting a small plastic catheter (about the thickness of a piece of spaghetti) into the artery, the Interventional Radiologist watches on an X-ray monitor while he guides the catheter into the main arteries supplying the uterus (Figure A). 

After inserting a small plastic catheter (about the thickness of a piece of spaghetti) into the artery, the Interventional Radiologist watches on an X-ray monitor while he guides the catheter into the main arteries supplying the uterus (Figure A).

“Illustration (Figure A) by Mr. John Byrnes, Used with permission of Image Guided Surgery Associates, PC” 

Once the catheter is in position, he injects particles of a special plastic that block the blood vessels supplying the uterine fibroids (Figure B).

Once the catheter is in position, he injects particles of a special plastic that block the blood vessels supplying the uterine fibroids (Figure B).

“Illustration (Figure B) by Mr. John Byrnes, Used with permission of Image Guided Surgery Associates, PC” 

The particles are round and are about the same size as grains of salt.  Once the embolization is completed, the fibroids cannot receive any more blood or oxygen.  Starved for nutrition, the fibroids shrink dramatically.” 

The result?  Women experience relief from the bleeding, pain, and other symptoms caused by the unwanted uterine fibroids.  Most patients spend only one night in the hospital.  Recovery after this procedure is rapid.

Hope Waltman is the founder of the new web site  www.hopeforfibroids.org and can be contacted at hopewaltman@paonline.com.  Hope For Fibroids is a member of the Health on the Net Foundation - HonCode. 

Dr. Robert Worthington-Kirsch, Interventional Radiologist, Roxborough Memorial Hospital, Philadelphia, PA.Dr. Kirsch is one of the Medical Consultants for this web site.

Contact Dr. Robert Worthington-Kirsch at Image Guided Surgery Associates, PC, 5735 Ridge Avenue, Suite 106, Philadelphia, Pa. 19128, (voice) 215-508-5261, (fax) 215-508-5264, e-mail kirsch@igsapc.com, web site www.fibroidcorner.com.

“Uterine Artery Embolization: A Breakthrough Procedure for Uterine Fibroids” is reprinted by permission of Hope For Fibroids Organization.

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