Embolization of uterine fibroids from the point of view of the gynecologist: pros and cons
Michal Mara, Kristyna Kubinova
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, General Faculty Hospital and First Medical Faculty of Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic
Abstract: Uterine artery embolization (UAE) is a minimally invasive procedure with large symptomatic potential in treatment of women with uterine leiomyomas. Due to specificities of this method and possible complications the appropriate indication is crucial. Patient' symptoms, age, plans for pregnancy, and surgical and reproductive history play a major role in decision-making regarding appropriate subjects for UAE. Close cooperation between the gynecologist and the interventional radiologist is necessary. UAE is usually offered as an alternative to surgical treatment. In patients with no fertility plans, it is a less invasive option than abdominal hysterectomy, with a comparable effect on fibroid-related symptoms and quality of life. The need for reintervention is markedly greater in patients after UAE (up to 35% within 5 years) than after hysterectomy. Women with large symptomatic fibroids wishing to retain the uterus and ineligible for minimally invasive (laparoscopic or vaginal) hysterectomy are good candidates for UAE. However, studies comparing UAE with minimally invasive hysterectomy are lacking. Use of UAE in younger women desiring pregnancy is more controversial, mainly because of the significant risk of miscarriage (as high as 64% in some studies) as well as the increased risk of other complications of pregnancy, such as preterm delivery, abnormal placentation, and post-partum hemorrhage. The risk of infertility or subfertility following UAE is unknown. Even poor candidates for myomectomy should be carefully selected for UAE after counseling about all possible adverse effects on fertility. Good prospective studies focused on fertility comparing UAE with no treatment or with myomectomy are needed but would be ethically questionable. This review summarizes the current knowledge regarding the benefits and potential risks of UAE from the point of view of the gynecologist, who should be responsible for proper indication of this treatment.
Keywords: benefits, hysterectomy, myomectomy, risks, uterine artery embolization, uterine fibroid
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