Dr. Hsu of ARA Diagnostic Imaging shares the benefits of Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE)
If you have uterine fibroids, you may dread the bleeding and pain that comes with your monthly cycle. Learn about Uterine Fibroid Embolization, or UFE, is a minimally-invasive, outpatient procedure that has transformed the lives of women who have suffered from uterine fibroids. Dr. Hsu, a radiologist with ARA Diagnostic Imaging, discusses this leading-edge approach with KEYE-TV’s Trevor Scott on CBS Austin’s ‘We Are Austin.’
(Trevor Scott) Welcome back to “We Are Austin” this morning. For women looking for options when it comes to treating fibroids, uterine fibroid embolization may be a solution over a major surgery like a hysterectomy. Dr. Connie Hsu, with ARA Diagnostic Imaging, is joining us today to talk about UFE. Good morning to you, doctor. It’s always great to see you.
(Dr. Connie Hsu) Good morning, Trevor. Such a pleasure seeing you as always. Thanks for having me.
(Trevor) It is our pleasure. We really love to have you. You have such a great way of speaking about some of these big medical issues that may sound scary and making them sound easy and approachable. And we do appreciate that. And actually, that’s a really great place to start for anybody out there who might not be familiar. What exactly are uterine fibroids, and how do they affect women?
(Dr. Hsu) So, fibroids are growths from the uterine muscle cells. They are not cancerous. However, with time as they grow, they can cause symptoms, and those symptoms can involve heavy menstrual bleeding, urinary cramps, pelvic pain, pelvic fullness, and discomfort in women. And then with those symptoms, they can cause things like urinary frequency, constipation, and also pain with intercourse.
(Trevor) These are things that would definitely impact one’s quality of life. So probably seeking treatments is very important. Can you share some of maybe, some of the traditional treatment options?
(Dr. Hsu) Of course, so first line of therapy is always medical. So that usually includes birth control pills, IUD, or even hormonal therapies. It’s only when medical treatment fails, then the options for women are either surgical or non‐surgical. The surgical usually involves hysterectomy or myomectomy, and then also laparoscopic radiofrequency ablation. For non‐surgical treatments, we’re usually talking about focused MR ultrasound and uterine fibroid embolization. Focused MR ultrasound is usually involving one or two fibroids only, and they have to be in the right location. But I’m here to talk to you about uterine fibroid embolization, which is a great non‐surgical treatment that treats all the fibroids at one setting. And it has a very low complication rate. And a lot of women just don’t know about it. In fact, one in five women think that hysterectomy is their only option.
(Trevor) Wow. That really is a very surprising statistic. And that’s why I love these segments with ARA because we do shine a light on perhaps lesser‐known options and especially wanting to avoid a hysterectomy if that’s at all possible, that uterine fibroid embolization sounds like a really great option. How exactly does it work, and what’s the recovery period?
(Dr. Hsu)Yeah. So uterine fibroid embolization involves an interventional radiologists doing access either in your wrist or the groin and navigating catheter through your arteries into both your uterine arteries, and delivering FDA approved particles to plug up the blood supply to the fibroids. And once those fibroids are devascularized, they shrink with time, and thereby you have improvement in your symptoms. Our procedure is usually performed with moderate sedation. I like to call it a few margaritas through the IV with no hangover. And the recovery process is usually one to two weeks recovery, unlike a hysterectomy, which is typically four to six weeks. Uterine fibroid embolization has a very low complication rate. It’s now mostly done as an outpatient. And I think the more important thing for women to consider is that you keep your uterus.
(Trevor) Yeah, that is probably very, very important to so many patients out there. And it sounds like the recovery time is vastly improved as well. And what are some of the results that women will experience with this procedure?
(Dr. Hsu) Of course, you know, I tell women that medicine keeps improving as time passes, and uterine fibroid embolization has been around for over 30 years. So it’s a proven, safe, effective treatment for uterine fibroids. It has a 88 to 92% success rate if you look at the literature, and research has shown that women who select uterine fibroid embolization as a non‐surgical treatment option have improvement in sexual function and also better quality of life. And in fact, a study showed over a ten‐year timeframe that three‐quarters of women that underwent uterine fibroid embolization didn’t really ever have to go to a hysterectomy, which I think is great news. It’s just that over 50% of women just don’t know that this is an option for them.
(Trevor) Right, I think that’s so special that it is obviously helping to clear up a medical issue, but at the same time, improving overall quality of life. I mean, that’s a win‐win, right doctor?
(Dr. Hsu) That’s a win situation, isn’t it?
(Trevor) It really is. So if we do have viewers out there right now who might be dealing with fibroids and they think, well, I would love to be a candidate for embolization, how do women find out and what’s the process to find out if this is a fit for them?
(Dr. Hsu) So patients can find out online more about uterine fibroid embolization and what procedures we offer by going to ausrad.com/UFE. And then, they also can reach out to our interventional clinic, where our coordinators will be happy to set them up for a clinic appointment with one of our physicians as well.
(Trevor) Dr. Hsu, thank you so much for joining us today. We always learn something new with ARA Diagnostic Imaging, and this is a particularly special to learn how it really can improve quality of life overall for women out there who might be dealing with this common issue. Thank you so much for shining some light on this.
(Dr. Hsu) Well, thank you for the opportunity, Trevor. It’s always great talking with you too.
(Trevor) It really is, and we look forward to that next time for sure, Dr. Hsu. Thanks for being here, and friends stay right there. There’s more “We Are Austin” coming up right after this.