History of Uterine Fibroid Embolization


Although UFE is a relatively new treatment for fibroids, the basic procedure – also called uterine artery embolization – has been performed since 1979. In the first reported case, the technique was used to embolize the uterine artery to control excessive bleeding after a cesarean section. Uterine artery embolization is now the state-of-the-art means to control severe hemorrhage after childbirth.

UFE, therefore, is not a new procedure, but a proven therapy being used in a new way to treat uterine fibroids.


Uterine Artery Embolization and Fibroids

In the early 1990s, Dr. J. H. Ravina, a gynecologist in Paris, France, noticed shrinkage of fibroids in patients who had undergone emergency uterine artery embolization for acute bleeding. Based on his observation, he first asked interventional radiologists to embolize fibroids prior to myomectomy to make the surgery less bloody. He soon discovered that uterine artery embolization alone cured the symptoms of fibroids. As a result, a program in which UFE became the definitive treatment of fibroids began in Paris. The first such program in the U.S. was started several years ago at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). There are now many such centers around the world routinely performing UFE to treat uterine fibroids with great success. Training standards (link to .pdf) have now been established for physicians who perform the procedure.

Although thousands of women undergo UFE each year, hundreds of thousands are still subjected to hysterectomy (the surgical removal of the uterus) to treat fibroids.