You had uterine artery embolization (UAE). UAE is a procedure to treat fibroids using radiology instead of surgery. During the procedure, the blood supply of the fibroids was cut off, causing them to shrink. The procedure took about 60 to 90 minutes.
You were given a sedative and a local anesthetic. An interventional radiologist made a 1/4-inch-long incision (cut) in your skin over the groin and inserted a catheter (a thin tube) into the femoral artery at the top of your leg. The radiologist then threaded the catheter into your uterine artery, the artery that supplies blood to the uterus.
Small plastic or gelatin particles were injected into the blood vessels that carry blood to the fibroids. These particles block the blood supply to the tiny arteries that carry blood to the fibroids. Without this blood supply, the fibroids will shrink and then die.
What to Expect at Home
A low-grade fever and flulike symptoms are common for about a week after the procedure. A small bruise where the catheter was inserted is also normal. You may also have moderate-to-strong cramping pain for 1 to 2 weeks after the procedure. Your doctor will give you a prescription for pain medicine.
Most women need 1 to 2 weeks to recover after UAE before returning to work. It may take 2 to 3 months for your fibroids to shrink enough so that symptoms decrease and your menstrual cycle becomes normal. The fibroids may continue to shrink during the next year.
Take it easy when you return home. When you first get home, move around slowly for just short periods of time.
Avoid strenuous activity like housework, yard work, and lifting children for at least 2 days. You should be able to return to your normal, light activities in 1 week.
Ask your doctor how long you should wait before having sexual activity. It may be about a month.
Do NOT drive for 24 hours after you get home.
Try using warm compresses or a heating pad for pelvic pain. Take your pain medicine the way your doctor told you. Make sure you have a good supply of sanitary pads at home. Ask your doctor how long you should avoid using tampons or douching.
You may resume a normal, healthy diet when you get home.
Drink 8 to 10 glasses of water or unsweetened juice a day.
Try eating foods that contain a lot of iron while you are bleeding.
Eat high-fiber foods to avoid getting constipated. Your pain medicine and being inactive can cause constipation.
Showering is fine, but do not take baths for 5 days. Also, do not soak in a hot tub or go swimming for 5 days.
Follow up with your doctor to schedule pelvic ultrasounds and exams.
When to Call the Doctor
Call your doctor or nurse if you have:
Severe pain that your pain medicine is not controlling
Fever higher than 101 °F
Nausea or vomiting
Bleeding where the catheter was inserted
Any unusual pain where the catheter was inserted or in the leg the catheter was in
Changes in color or temperature of either leg
Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Bellevue, Washington; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.