What is fibroid embolisation and how does it work?
Fibroid embolisation is a procedure that has been performed worldwide for over 20 years. The procedure is conducted in an angiography suite (“cath lab”) at Mercy Angiography, which is in the Mercy Hospital at 98 Mountain Road, Epsom in Auckland. Your interventional radiologist will be assisted by nurses and other highly trained staff.
Small particles are used to block the blood vessels supplying the fibroids. It is a minimally invasive procedure performed by an interventional radiologist requiring only a tiny nick in the skin in the groin, with most patients able to go home the day after the procedure.
You will be given medication before the procedure to help relax and control pain, but you will remain awake during the procedure.
Under x-ray guidance a small flexible plastic tube called a catheter is feed into the artery in the groin and then into the artery supplying the fibroids.
Particles smaller than a grain of sand are injected into the artery, blocking the blood vessels supplying the fibroids. It doesn’t matter how many fibroids are in the uterus because all of them are treated at the same time.
Without blood supply the fibroids die off and then shrink, on average by 40 - 50%, over a 3 to 6 month period. The majority of patients have a significant improvement in their symptoms, both for heavy bleeding (80 - 90%) and pelvic pressure (80-90%) after 4 to 6 weeks.
The particles used to block the blood vessels are made from plastic type materials that are biocompatable (don’t react with the body) and are smaller than a grain of sand. These particles have been used for over 40 years in a wide variety of procedures with no significant side effects from the material reported. In total no more than a teaspoon of particles is usually required to complete the procedure. There are two main types of particles made from Polyvinyl alcohol or PVA and tris-acryl gelatin spheres called ‘Embospheres”.