Uterine artery embolisation for symptomatic fibroids: clinical results in 400 women with imaging follow up


* Dr W. J. Walker, Department of Radiology, The Royal Surrey County Hospital, Egerton Road, Guildford GU2 5XX, UK.


Objective To evaluate the mid-term efficacy and complications of uterine artery embolisation in women with symptomatic fibroids. To assess reduction in uterine and dominant fibroid volumes using ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging.

Design Prospective observational single-centre study.

Setting A district general hospital in Surrey and a private hospital in London.

Methods Four hundred consecutive women were treated between December 1996 and February 2001. Indications for treatment were menorrhagia, menstrual pain, abdominal swelling or bloating and other pressure effects. Uterine artery embolisation was performed using polyvinyl alcohol particles and platinum coils.

Main outcome measures Imaging was performed before embolisation and at regular intervals thereafter. Clinical evaluation was made at regular intervals after embolisation to assess patient outcome.

Results Bilateral uterine artery embolisation was achieved in 395 women, while 5 women had a unilateral procedure. With a mean clinical follow up of 16.7 months, menstrual bleeding was improved in 84% of women and menstrual pain was improved in 79%. Using ultrasound, the median uterine and dominant fibroid volumes before embolisation were 608 and 112 cc, respectively, and after embolisation 255 and 19 cc, respectively (P= .0001). Three (1%) infective complications requiring emergency hysterectomy occurred. Twenty-three (6%) patients had clinical failure or recurrence. Of these, nine (2%) had a hysterectomy. Twenty-six (7%) women had permanent amenorrhoea after embolisation including four patients under the age of 45 (2%). Of these, amenorrhea started between 4 and 18 months after embolisation, and only three had elevated follicle stimulating hormone levels when amenorrhea developed. Thirteen (4%) women had chronic vaginal discharge considered as a major irritant. Thirteen pregnancies occurred in 12 patients. Ninety-seven percent of women were pleased with the outcome and would recommend this treatment to others.

Conclusions Uterine artery embolisation is associated with a high clinical success rate and good fibroid volume reduction. Infective complications requiring hysterectomy, amenorrhoea under the age of 45 and chronic vaginal discharge may complicate the procedure.