Fibroid Embolization Treatment in South Africa

Due to the relatively new nature of fibroids treatment in South Africa, many gynaecologists are not familiar with this revolutionary option. Fibroid embolization is a minimally invasive fibroids treatment which can help treat heavy menstrual bleeding, pain, and pressure on the bladder or bowel. Unlike with some other fibroids treatment options, with fibroids embolization, the uterus is preserved making pregnancies possible.

The purpose of fibroids embolization is to block the blood flow to the fibroids, which ultimately leads to fibroid death and shrinkage with a minimal recovery time in comparison to surgical treatment. Click here to learn more about fibroids treatment in South Africa, Botswana, and Namibia

woman with fibroids

Uterine Artery Embolization Procedure

Uterine artery embolization is carried out as an endovascular procedure by a radiologist in an interventional suite. Patients who undergo uterine artery embolisation do not need to undergo general anaesthetic, and are rather provided with light sedation so that they remain awake and breathing on their own.

Access to the arteries supplying the fibroids in the uterus is acquired by means of wires and catheters (small flexible tubes) which are inserted through a small hole in the artery of the groin (femoral artery) or artery in the wrist (transradial approach for uterine fibroid embolisation). The position of the correct artery supplying the fibroids is located by injecting an iodine based solution which maps out the arteries. These images are then used as a map for the radiologist to gain access to the uterine arteries.

Minimally Invasive Fibroids Treatment

Fibroid Care has introduced another option for fibroids treatment, therefore, the desire to maintain fertility should not prevent you from getting fibroids treatment because the minimally invasive fibroids treatment is now available and it is known as uterine fibroids embolization. The decision to perform uterine fibroids embolisation should be a collaborative one between the interventional radiologist, the gynecologist, and most importantly, the fibroids patient.

The content of this video is attributed to the work done by Dr. W. Walker, a leader in the field, from the Royal Surrey Hospital, England.

Following UFE, the patient is observed for 6 hours under the direct nursing supervision and placed on a patient-controlled analgesic pump. This allows the patient to manage their own pain control. The majority of patients are discharged the day after the procedure. A six-week follow-up visit is usually scheduled with the referring doctor. To find out more about fibroids treatment in South Africa, Namibia and in Botswana. Request a consultation here.

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Frequently Asked Questions

While doctors still don’t know the cause of uterine fibroids, research and clinical experience point to the following factors:

  • Genetic changes: Many fibroids contain changes in genes that differ from those in normal uterine muscle cells. There’s also some evidence that fibroids run in families and that identical twins are more likely to both have fibroids than nonidentical twins.
  • Hormones: Estrogen and progesterone, two hormones that stimulate development of the uterine lining during each menstrual cycle in preparation for pregnancy, appear to promote the growth of fibroids. Fibroids contain more estrogen and progesterone receptors than normal uterine muscle cells do. Fibroids tend to shrink after menopause due to a decrease in hormone production.
  • Other growth factors: Substances that help the body maintain tissues, such as insulin-like growth factor, may affect fibroid growth. Fibroid growth has not been linked to diet.

Your doctor can often detect fibroids during a bimanual exam. The doctor or gynaecologist usually performs an ultrasound scan to confirm the presence and location of fibroids.

The most common symptoms of uterine fibroids include:

  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Prolonged menstrual periods — seven days or more of menstrual bleeding
  • Pelvic pressure or pain
  • Frequent urination
  • Difficulty emptying your bladder
  • Constipation
  • Backache or leg pains

Uterine fibroids are noncancerous, benign, growths of the uterus that often appear during childbearing years from the age of 20-55 years. Also called leiomyomas (lie-o-my-O-muhs) or myomas, uterine fibroids aren’t associated with an increased risk of uterine cancer and almost never develop into cancer.

Uterine fibroids develop from the smooth muscular tissue of the uterus (myometrium). A single cell divides repeatedly, eventually creating a firm, rubbery mass distinct from nearby tissue. The growth patterns of uterine fibroids vary — they may grow slowly or rapidly, or they may remain the same size. Some fibroids go through growth spurts, and some may shrink on their own. Many fibroids that have been present during pregnancy shrink or disappear after pregnancy, as the uterus goes back to a normal size.

Fibroids range in size from seedlings, undetectable by the human eye, to bulky masses that can distort and enlarge the uterus. They can be single or multiple, in extreme cases expanding the uterus so much that it reaches the rib cage.

As many as 3 out of 4 women have uterine fibroids sometime during their lives, but most are unaware of them because they often cause no symptoms. Your doctor may discover fibroids incidentally during a pelvic exam or ultrasound. Only seek treatment for fibroids causing problems such a bleeding, pain or bloating to name a few symptoms.

Uterine Fibroid Embolization as a technique was pioneered in 1974 by Dr.Jean-Jacques Merland. As of this writing, the efficacy of UFE for treatment of uterine fibroids has been confirmed by numerous institutional and multi-center studies for well over a decade.

Fibroids usually don’t interfere with conception and pregnancy. However, it’s possible that fibroids could cause infertility or pregnancy loss. Submucosal fibroids may prevent implantation and growth of an embryo. In such cases, doctors often recommend removing these fibroids before attempting pregnancy, or if you’ve had multiple miscarriages. Rarely, fibroids can distort or block your fallopian tubes, or interfere with the passage of sperm from your cervix to your fallopian tubes. Uterine fibroid embolization does not interfere with your chances of falling pregnant.

It is wise to consult with a fertility specialist if your only problem is that you are unable to have a baby.

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