Uterine Fibroid Embolization


Uterine fibroids are benign growths that develop in the wall of the uterus. They affect about one in five women in the United States. The cause of uterine fibroid tumors is unknown. They tend to be more common in African-American women than in Caucasian women.

While many fibroids cause no symptoms, some can cause symptoms such as:

  • Heavy and painful periods
  • Bleeding between periods
  • An urgent and frequent need to urinate
  • Pelvic cramping or pain with periods
  • Sensation of fullness or pressure in the lower abdomen

Fibroids occur in 20-40 percent of women age 35 and over. The fibroids are diagnosed by physical exam and confirmed by ultrasound or MRI. Those patients whose symptoms are not relieved by medical therapy have additional therapeutic options, consisting of surgery and fibroid embolization.

According to the American Academy of Family Practice, uterine fibroids account for 60 percent of the 600,000 hysterectomies performed in the United States each year.

Less-Invasive Treatment Option
A nonsurgical treatment for fibroids is being performed at South Nassau. Called uterine fibroid embolization (UFE), the procedure uses X-rays to guide the delivery of tiny particles to an artery in the uterus via a catheter inserted into the groin. The particles block the blood supply to the fibroids, causing them to shrink significantly in size.

UFE is performed with conscious sedation and does not require general anesthesia. After an overnight hospital stay, patients typically return to work or daily activities within seven to 10 days. The recurrence rate of fibroids after embolization ranges from 10 to 27 percent. The majority of women who have fibroid embolization experience either significant or complete resolution of their symptoms.

On average, fibroids will shrink to 40 percent of their original volume three months after the embolization procedure. After one year, they typically shrink 60 percent.

Embolization of fibroids was first performed to help decrease blood loss during a hysterectomy. An estimated 14,000 UFE procedures are performed in the United States each year.

Who Is a Candidate for UFE?
The ideal candidates for uterine fibroid embolization are premenopausal women who experience heavy menstrual bleeding and pain and do not plan to have children; or postmenopausal women who suffer from pelvic discomfort and urinary frequency, urgency or incontinence due to the size and number of uterine fibroids.

UFE is safe, well-tolerated and highly successful; however, it is not recommended for women who plan to have children because no long-term studies exist on the procedure’s effects on fertility.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call the hospital’s Interventional Radiology Department at (877) SOUTH-NASSAU  or (877-768-8462).

Meet Our Team

Sydney S. Yoon, MD, Director of Interventional Radiology at South Nassau, is board-certified in vascular and interventional radiology, diagnostic radiology and medicine. He has extensive experience in fibroid embolization and other vascular and interventional procedures. He completed fellowship training at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center with Scott Goodwin, MD, the physician who introduced fibroid embolization to the United States. He earned a medical degree from the University of Chicago, completed a residency in radiology at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and a residency in medicine at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Dr. Yoon was listed in the 2010 “Best Doctors” issue in New York Magazine and in “America’s Top Doctors” and “Top Doctors-New York Metro Area.”                       

Rachel Piechowiak, MS, DO,is a board-certified diagnostic and fellowship-trained interventional radiologist. She earned a medical degree from the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine and a master’s degree from SUNY Buffalo in association with the Roswell Park Cancer Institute. She completed a fellowship in vascular and interventional radiology at Mount Sinai Medical Center, a diagnostic radiology residency at Morristown Medical Center/ Overlook Hospital in Morristown, N.J., and a rotating internship at Long Beach Medical Center.

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