Embolization is a process where the arterial blood supply is cut off to an organ or tissues. The procedure has been used for more than 20 years to stop internal bleeding without surgery, to deprive a tumor of blood, or to pre-operatively reduce blood loss during surgery.
During UFE, an interventional radiologist places a small catheter (tube) in the femoral artery (in the upper leg) through a tiny incision. The doctor then uses x-ray imaging and x-ray contrast ( dye ) to guide the tube through the pelvic arteries into one of the two uterine arteries.
Small particles are injected into the uterine artery through the catheter. These particles are about the size of a grain of salt.
Blood naturally carries these particles through the artery permanently cutting off the blood supply. The particles remain permanently in the arteries. No known adverse reactions have occurred from the particulate material.
The procedure is then repeated on the other side of the body to block the other uterine artery. Both uterine arteries must be embolized in order to block blood supply to the fibroid.
The fibroid, completely dependent upon these arteries for nutrients, will shrink or stop growing due to the loss of nutrient-bearing blood. The rest of the uterus survives because it is supplied by additional blood vessels.