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How does UFE work?

Dr Eisen Liang - Monday, July 30, 2018

How does UFE work?

During UFE, small particles are injected to the uterine arteries. As the plastic particles restrict blood supply to the fibroids, these benign tumours shrivel and die as it is starved with lack of oxygen and nutrients.

Normal uterine tissue (myometrium) has an immense capacity to recruit dormant blood vessels to re-nourish itself. As a result, it will survive and remain largely unharmed.

However, the fibroids do not have the capacity to recruit new blood vessels so these benign tumours die and shrink, eventually becoming scar-like tissues.

UFE utilizes the difference in the arrangement of blood supply between fibroids and normal uterine wall tissue (myometrium).

Normal uterus is quite small, only 60-100 mls in size. During pregnancy, the uterus enlarges enormously, and carries with it 40 times in blood flow.  Uterine blood vessels have to increase in size, length and numbers during pregnancy. When the uterus is not pregnant, these blood vessels shrivel up and are mostly shut down.

When particles block some of the uterine artery branches supplying the normal uterine tissue, the dormant branches will soon open up to keep the normal part of the uterus alive. However, fibroids do not have the capacity to recruit new blood vessels. That is why once the fibroid arteries are blocked, the fibroid will shrink and die. The fibroid becomes a scar-like tissue, no longer active or viable.

Dr Eisen Liang is an interventional radiologist with special interest in gynaecological intervention such as Uterine Fibroid Embolisation (UFE), adenomyosis embolisation and ovarian vein embolisation for pelvic congestion syndrome. He performed his first UFE in 1998 and has been performing UFE at Sydney Adventist Hospital since 2007.
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