A recent study conducted by Dr. Michael Tal and Elizabeth Kagan Arleo of the Yale University School of Medicine’s Department of Diagnostic Radiology presented some positive findings about the efficacy and rates of doctor approval of uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) for uterine fibroids.
|Questions to ask your doctor about UFE:|
Am I good candidate for UFE? Do I need a diagnostic ultrasound or an MRI to determine if UFE is my best treatment option?
How often do you perform this surgery?
When can I return to work and other normal activities?
Are there any side effects I should be aware of?
UFE is a minimally invasive procedure that can usually be performed on an outpatient basis. The procedure involves the use of a catheter that is fed through the femoral artery to the uterine artery and then used to administer a solution that blocks blood flow to the fibroid. Because fibroids require a relatively large quantity of blood to grow and survive in the uterus, blockage of blood flow to fibroids results in their shrinkage and the disappearance of symptoms for most patients, without requiring further treatment or the use of more invasive methods, such as hysterectomy.
The study, published in the December, 2003 issue of the Journal of Vascular and Interventional Radiology, showed that from 2000 to 2002, patients’ perspectives about their gynecologists’ opinions of UFE for fibroid tumors changed markedly. In a 2000 survey of 21 women, three quarters of those surveyed answered that they thought their gynecologists were opposed to UFE, while in a similar survey conducted in 2002, only a third of respondents answered that they thought their gynecologists were opposed to the use of UFE.
According to Dr. Tal, the jump in the treatment’s popularity can be attributed to rising doctor and patient awareness, and also to innovations in embolization techniques and technologies, such as increased research and development of embolic agents, the solutions made up of tiny plastic particles that flow to targeted areas, blocking blood supply and thus shrinking fibroids. For this reason, he believes that doctors should discuss UFE with all patients who suffer from symptomatic uterine fibroids.
But, adds Ms. Arleo, over half of doctors are still reluctant to recommend UFE as a treatment option, a trend which she comments, is "disconcerting, especially since informed consent dictates discussion of all treatment options available."
The pair expressed hope that physicians will increasingly regard UFE as a viable and advantageous treatment option for patients.