Uterine Fibroid Consultation and Treatment

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Uterine Fibroid Consultation and Treatment at RCI

What are uterine fibroids?

Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous muscular tumors that grow in the wall of the uterus. Fibroids can grow as a single tumor, or there can be many of them in the uterus. They can be as small as an apple seed or as big as a grapefruit; in unusual cases, they can become very large.

Who gets fibroids?

Uterine fibroids are common. As many as 1 in 5 women may have fibroids during their childbearing years. Fibroids are most common in women in their 40s and early 50s. Though the cause of fibroids is unknown, there are factors that can increase women’s risk:

  • Age: Fibroids become more common as women age, especially during their 30s and 40s through menopause; after menopause, fibroids usually shrink
  • Diet: Eating a lot of red meat (e.g., beef) and ham is linked with a higher risk of fibroids; eating plenty of green vegetables seems to protect women from developing fibroids
  • Ethnicity: African-American women are more likely to develop fibroids than white women
  • Family history: Having a family member with fibroids increases your risk; if a woman’s mother had fibroids, her risk of having them is about three times higher than average
  • Obesity: Women who are overweight are at higher risk for fibroids; for very heavy women, the risk is 2–3 times greater than average

What are the symptoms of fibroids?

Most fibroids do not cause any symptoms, but some women with fibroids can have:

  • Constipation
  • Cramps
  • Difficulty emptying the bladder
  • Frequent urination
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Lower back pain
  • Pelvic pain
  • Pelvic pressure or bloating
  • Prolonged menstrual periods (7 days or more of menstrual bleeding)

Diagnosing uterine fibroids

Ultrasound is typically the first exam used to evaluate and determine the presence of uterine fibroids. Ultrasound is effective for confirming enlargement of the uterus and showing fibroids.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) produces the best images of internal body parts and shows the size, location and number of individual fibroids within the uterus. This helps when planning the best minimally invasive treatment for each particular case. For this reason, MRI is the standard imaging tool used by interventional radiologists to determine if the fibroid can be treated using a minimally invasive treatment called uterine fibroid embolization (UFE). MRIs also detect alternate causes for symptoms, help identify pathology that could prevent a patient from having uterine fibroid embolization and avoid ineffective treatments.

Treatment of uterine fibroids

Women who have no symptoms from their fibroids do not need treatment. However, women with significant symptoms may consider treatment. If you’re considering treatment for uterine fibroids, you should consult your doctor, as well as get a second opinion from an interventional radiologist. This will help determine if you are a candidate for uterine fibroid embolization (UFE).

Non-surgical uterine fibroid embolization

Thanks to advancements in interventional radiology, there are minimally invasive options for treatment of uterine fibroids. Uterine fibroid embolization, also known as uterine artery embolization, is a minimally invasive procedure performed by an interventional radiologist, a medical doctor with extensive experience in diagnostic radiology. The entire fibroid treatment typically lasts less than 1 hour and is performed as an outpatient therapy. Patients are usually discharged to home the same day.

The uterine fibroid embolization procedure begins with a tiny nick in the groin area. This nick provides the interventional radiologist access to the femoral artery in the upper thigh. Sometimes the radial artery in the wrist is utilized. Using specialized X-ray equipment, a catheter passes through the arteries to the uterine artery and guides it near the fibroid tumor. Then, microspheres the size of fine grains of sand are released through the catheter and into the blood flow leading to the fibroid tumors.

These microspheres block the vessels around the fibroid, depriving it of oxygen it needs to grow. The oxygen deprivation results in fibroids shrinking. The microspheres remain permanently in the blood vessels at the fibroid site.

After the procedure, you may experience some discomfort such as abdominal cramping or pain. Painkilling medications and drugs that control swelling are typically prescribed following the procedure to treat cramping and pain. Many women resume light activities in a few days, and the majority of women are able to return to normal activities within 7–10 days.

How do I make an appointment for UFE?

To receive an informational packet or set up your initial consultation appointment, call RCI’s Vein & Interventional Clinic at 319-261-0636 or toll free at 800-747-0121.

Schedule Now Using our Contact Form

All of our interventional radiologists are board certified by the American Board of Radiology with Certificates of Advanced Qualification (CAQs) in vascular and interventional radiology. They are members of the Society for Interventional Radiology (SIR).

For more information on interventional radiology procedures, visit www.sirweb.org.
RCI is accredited by the American College of Radiology (ACR).

For more information on this and other radiology procedures, visit www.radiologyinfo.org.

RCI is accredited by the American College of Radiology (ACR).

Contact RCI

RCI Imaging Center
1948 First Avenue NE
Cedar Rapids, IA 52402
Hours: Monday – Friday,
7:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Phone: 319-364-0121
Toll Free: 800-747-0121
Fax: 319-364-5684

Vein & Interventional Clinic
1948 First Avenue NE
Cedar Rapids, IA 52402
Hours: Monday – Friday,
8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Phone: 319-261-0636
Toll Free: 800-747-0121
Fax: 319-364-5684

For billing and
insurance questions:

RCI Business Services
1956 First Avenue NE
Cedar Rapids, IA 52402
Hours: Monday – Friday
8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Phone: 319-832-1735
Toll Free: 800-747-9729
Fax: 319-832-1747

mailing address:

Radiology Consultants of Iowa
PO Box 338
Cedar Rapids, IA 52406