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Uterine Artery Embolization for Fibroids
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
You may have pain for a few days to weeks. This is normal and should get better with pain medicine. Follow your healthcare provider's instructions for limiting activity and preventing infection. You should be able to go back to your normal daily activities within 1 to 2 weeks.
Call your doctor or gynecologist if:
- You have heavy vaginal bleeding that soaks 1 pad in 1 hour for 2 hours in a row.
- You have bleeding from your vagina that is not your period, or you are past menopause.
- You start to bleed more than usual during or between your monthly periods.
- You have pain or vaginal discharge that continues for longer than 1 month.
- You have foul-smelling vaginal discharge.
- You have a fever higher than 100.4°F (38°C).
- You have a fever along with pain and nausea lasting longer than 3 days.
- You have signs of an infection at the catheter site, such as red streaks, pain, or swelling.
- You suddenly have severe abdominal pain, or new or worsening abdominal pain or pressure.
- You cannot urinate, or you urinate very little.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
You may need any of the following:
- NSAIDs help decrease swelling and pain or fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
- Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask your healthcare provider how to take this medicine safely. Some prescription pain medicines contain acetaminophen. Do not take other medicines that contain acetaminophen without talking to your healthcare provider. Too much acetaminophen may cause liver damage. Prescription pain medicine may cause constipation. Ask your healthcare provider how to prevent or treat constipation.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Your healthcare provider will give you specific instructions. The following are general guidelines to help your body heal and to help prevent infection:
- Rest as needed. Rest and sleep will help your body heal. You may be more tired than usual for the first 7 to 10 days. Your body will be breaking down the fibroids for a few months.
- Follow your healthcare provider's instructions for activity. He or she will tell you when it is okay to return to your normal activities and to start driving. He or she may want you to wait 1 to 2 weeks to return to work.
- Help prevent an infection. Do not use tampons, douche, swim, or use a bath or hot tub until your healthcare provider says it is okay. These may cause an infection in your uterus. Your provider may want you to wait 7 to 10 days. It may take longer if you had any problems during or after the procedure. It is okay to shower after the procedure. You will only have a small cut in your skin from where the catheter went into your leg. Check the catheter site for signs of infection, including red streaks, pain, and swelling.
- Treat symptoms of postembolization syndrome. This syndrome is common after an embolization procedure. It usually starts within 72 hours of the procedure and may last a few days. The main symptoms are fever, pain, and nausea. You will probably be able to manage your symptoms at home. Acetaminophen or an NSAID, such as ibuprofen, can reduce a fever and pain. You may need to eat lightly to manage nausea. Drink more liquids for the first week after the procedure to prevent dehydration.
- Ask about birth control or pregnancy. It may take a few months for your monthly period to return to normal. If you had an IUD before the embolization, you may be able to continue using it. Ask your provider if it is safe to become pregnant, and how long to wait before you try.
Follow up with your doctor or gynecologist as directed:
You will need to return for regular MRIs to check that your uterus and fibroid are smaller. A foul-smelling discharge from your vagina may mean a fibroid detached from the uterus. An MRI is used to check for this. A procedure called a dilation and curettage (D&C) is used to make sure all pieces are removed. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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