For some causes of pelvic pain, such as uterine fibroids and pelvic congestion syndrome, doctors at NYU Langone may recommend a type of minimally invasive procedure called embolization. These nonsurgical procedures are often performed on an outpatient basis by an interventional radiologist.
Uterine artery embolization involves cutting off the blood supply to uterine growths, usually fibroids, causing them to shrink. During the procedure, your doctor inserts a small tube called a catheter into an artery in the wrist or groin, and threads it to the blood vessels that supply the fibroids. The doctor then injects small particles into the vessels, blocking blood supply to the fibroid. This results in shrinking of the fibroids and improved symptoms.
The procedure is performed with sedation and a local anesthetic, and is most frequently performed on an outpatient basis. Pelvic cramping is possible for 24 hours after the procedure. Light activity may be resumed in a few days with return to normal activity within 5 to 10 days. The doctor prescribes pain medication as needed.
Uterine artery embolization is safe and effective for multiple fibroids or very large fibroids. Many women no longer experience fibroids after the procedure.
Pelvic varices embolization is used to treat pain caused by pelvic congestion syndrome. Using a very small incision, your doctor inserts a thin tube called a catheter into a vein in the groin or neck. Using real-time X-ray, also known as fluoroscopy, the doctor directs the catheter into the swollen veins of the ovaries and the pelvis. Contrast material is injected to confirm the location of the swelling. The blood supply to the varices is then blocked using metallic coils or medicines that can shrink the vein. Sometimes the procedure is divided into two stages in order to treat the ovarian and pelvic veins separately.
Most women experience some pelvic pain for the first three days after the procedure. Your doctor may prescribe oral pain medication for any discomfort.
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