Can UAE damage my ovaries?

Blood supply to the ovaries can be reduced by a UAE and some women do have a transient reduction in hormone levels. However, in the vast majority of women, ovarian function returns to normal. Women over 45 years of age can have ovarian dysfunction after UAE or menopause. The risk of early menopause after UAE is the same as any surgical procedure for fibroids including myomectomy or hysterectomy. There is no greater risk of ovarian dysfunction after UFE as compared with myomectomy or hysterectomy.

Can I get pregnant after UFE?

Yes. Many women have delivered healthy babies after embolisation, many of whom were told that they would never be able to conceive. Each woman who wishes to conceive is evaluated individually by our experienced team of gynaecologists and fertility specialists who advise our patients whether UFE or myomectomy are the better option in their opinion.

Should I get an MRI?

MRI is an extremely useful microinvasive imaging test for fibroids. It provides the best quality images of the uterus, ovaries, and other soft tissue structures in the pelvis, allowing the radiologist to plan the UAE procedure and address any co-existing conditions. 

Why must I see another gynaecologist?

All the specialists on our panel are extremely experienced in the assessment of fibroids and the post-operative care of women who have had an embolisation. The Fibroid Treatment Clinic requires all women considering UFE to have the full benefit of an unbiased opinion. The gynaecologist that we refer you to will assess your suitability for UAE and advise you if another treatment or indeed no treatment is necessary. They run independent practices and will always act and advise in your best interest. 

Why did my gynaecologist not mention this treatment to me?

UFE has only recently become available in South African teaching hospitals. Due to limited resources and skill, it is unfortunately not that frequently performed. Therefore most gynaecologists in South Africa have had no or very limited exposure to UAE. 

Can my gynaecologist perform a UFE?

Only radiologists with the appropriate training in interventional radiology can perform the procedure in South Africa.

How long will I stay in hospital?

The vast majority of women require an overnight stay in hospital. Occasionally a second night is required if the fibroids are very large.

How long should I take off work?

We usually suggest requesting sick leave for 2 weeks. After about a week you will be functioning almost normally. 

What if I am HIV positive?

As long as your CD4 count is above 200, we expect no complications and you will still be eligible for the UAE procedure. 

Does UFE work on big fibroids?

Yes, it does. Small and large fibroids will die or infarct after UFE. Larger fibroids will not disappear when dead but they will shrink substantially.

Is this a ‘new’ procedure?

The procedure has been performed for over 30 years. More than 100,000 women have had UFE with documented results. It has only recently become more widely available in South Africa although it is very well accepted in all developed countries as a first-line therapy for fibroids. UAE has been accepted by the major gynaecological and radiological associations of North America, Europe and Australia. It is funded by their private and public health systems. 

How long does a UFE take?

The actual procedure time is about 20 minutes but it will take about an hour from the time that you are admitted to the surgery ward until you are able to leave theatre due to anaesthetic and post-operative recovery time.

Is it a painful procedure?

UFE causes a deep cramping pain similar to a bad period pain. This is easily managed with the strong pain medication that we will provide in the ward and that we will provide to you when you are discharged from the hospital.

Will I be put under general anaesthetic for the procedure?

No. For the UAE procedure, our anaesthetist puts our patients under conscious sedation. This means that you will be asleep but not ventilated. You will have no memory of the procedure.

Will UFE make my fibroids disappear?

Small fibroids may disappear and occasionally the body will expel some fibroids after UFE. Most fibroids however remain in the uterus as small balls of scar tissue causing no further problems or discomfort.

What happens to the particles that you inject?

The particles that are infused into the uterine arteries remain inside the uterus forever. They are specifically sized so that they cannot be displaced or shifted. They simply become incorporated into the uterus over time.

What is the cost of a UFE?

UFE in South Africa has a similar cost to myomectomy and hysterectomy. The procedure is covered entirely by most South African Medical Aids. The Fibroid Treatment Clinic charges the current medical aid rate.

What blood tests do I need and why?

We routinely perform a Full Blood Count as many of our patients are extremely anaemic. Renal function is also checked to ensure safety with the intravenous contrast that we administer during the procedure.

What is the difference between UFE and UAE?

UFE stands for Uterine Fibroid Embolisation and UAE for Uterine Artery Embolisation. They both refer to the same procedure.

Does UAE work for adenomyosis?

UAE is proving to be a very effective treatment for adenomyosis. Although it is not quite as effective as with fibroids. It offers significant relief for about 50% of women who undergo the procedure. Long-term results are not yet available but it is currently an accepted procedure in the UK under the National Health Service. Please see our adenomyosis page for more details.