Uterine artery embolization


Uterine artery embolization (UAE) is a procedure to treat fibroids without surgery. Uterine fibroids are noncancerous (benign) tumors that develop in the uterus (womb).

During the procedure, the blood supply of the fibroids is cut off. This causes the fibroids to shrink.

Alternative Names

Uterine fibroid embolization; UFE; UAE


UAE is done by a doctor called an interventional radiologist.

You will be awake but you will not feel pain. This is called conscious sedation. The procedure takes about 45 - 60 minutes.

The procedure is usually done this way:

Why the Procedure Is Performed

UAE is an effective way to treat symptoms caused by fibroids.


Uterine artery embolization is generally safe.

Risks of any invasive procedure are:

Risks of uterine artery embolization are:

Before the Procedure

Always tell your doctor or nurse:

Before UAE:

On the day of UAE:

After the Procedure

You may stay in the hospital overnight. Or you may go home the same day.

You will receive pain medicine. You will be instructed to lie flat for 4 - 6 hours after the procedure.

Follow any other instructions about taking care of yourself after you go home.

Pelvic cramps are common for the first 24 hours after the procedure. They may last for a few days to 2 weeks. Cramps may be severe and may last more than 6 hours at a time.

Most women recover quickly and are able to return to normal activities within 7 - 10 days. The treated fibroid tissue may pass through your vagina.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Uterine artery embolization works well to decrease pain, pressure, and bleeding from fibroids in most women who have the procedure.

It is less invasive than surgical treatments for uterine fibroids. Many women may return more quickly to activities than after surgery.

As with other treatments for uterine fibroids, some women may require more procedures or a hysterectomy in the future.


American College of Obstricians and Gynecologists Practice Bulletin: Alternatives to hysterectomy in the management of leiomyomas. Number 96, August 2008. Obstet Gynecol. 2008;112:387-400.

Bradley L, Uterine fibroid embolization: a viable alternative to hysterectomy. Obstet Gynecol. 2009:127-135.

Goodwin SC, Spies JB, Worthington-Kirsch R et al. Uterine artery embolization for treatment of leiomyomata: long-term outcomes from the FIBROID registry. Obstet Gynecol. 2008; 111:22-33.

Munro MG. Uterine leiomyomas, current concepts: pathogenesis, impact on reproductive health, and medical, procedural, and surgical management. Obstet Gynecol Clin N Am. 2011;38:703-731.

Tulandi T, Salamah K. Fertility and uterine artery embolization. Obstet Gynecol. 2010;115:857-860.

Review Date: 11/8/2012
Reviewed By: Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Bellevue, Washington; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.