Uterine Artery Embolization (UAE), also called Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE), is an experimental surgery currently being promoted as an alternative to hysterectomy or myomectomy as a treatment for uterine fibroids. This surgery uses a technique called embolization: a mass of microspheres (tris-acryl gelatin) or polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) material (an embolus) is injected into the uterine arteries in order to block the flow of blood through those vessels. The microsphere gelatin or PVA remains permanently in the uterine arteries. UAE attempts to shrink fibroids by cutting off their blood supply.
First, an incision is made in the groin. Another incision is then made in the femoral artery. A catheter is inserted into the groin and pushed through the femoral artery, and into the uterine artery, where 300 to 1200µm microspheres (tris-acryl gelatin) or 300 to 700µm polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) particles (plastic) are permanently lodged inside the uterine artery.
Women are told that as the blood supply to the uterine arteries and fibroids is stopped, the fibroids will begin to shrink, become necrotic and die. However, not all fibroids do shrink. Continued growth of fibroids four years after embolization has been reported.
The Following Adverse Effects Have Been Reported In Medical Publications:
The long-term effects of embosphere microspheres or polyvinyl alcohol particles remaining permanently in the uterine arteries or elsewhere in women’s bodies is currently unknown. It should be noted that this “unknown” status was also used to describe the early introduction of a number of women’s treatments which proved later to be catastrophic: diethylstilbestrol (DES) given to prevent miscarriage, was ultimately shown not to prevent miscarriage but to lead to breast cancer in many of the women who took it, vaginal cancers and infertility in the daughters they gave birth to and testicular cancer and infertility in their sons; the intrauterine device (IUD), which caused life-threatening pelvic infection, infertility, and hysterectomy in many women; silicone breast implants which may lead to autoimmune disease; and Thalidomide, which caused malformed babies, born with incomplete or missing limbs.
Although the adverse effects listed have been documented in medical journals, it should be noted that long term effects emerge over time. UAE is too new to know what the additional long-term effects will be.
For more information, watch the short video “Female Anatomy: the Functions of the Female Organs.”