Merits of uterine fibroid embolization emerge in multisite comparison with surgical options

February 23, 2007

Lower costs, speedier recovery, and reduced pain give uterine artery embolization an edge over surgery for fibroid treatment, according to a multicenter trial that examined the relative merits of the two methods.

Lower costs, speedier recovery, and reduced pain give uterine artery embolization an edge over surgery for fibroid treatment, according to a multicenter trial that examined the relative merits of the two methods.

Results from the study, performed at 27 hospitals in the U.K., were published in The New England Journal of Medicine in January. Participating facilities included the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

Researchers examined quality of life up to one year post-treatment for 157 women involved in the study who had been randomized to embolization or surgery (hysterectomy or myoectomy).

Compared with the women who underwent surgery, women who had embolization reported significantly less pain 24 hours after their procedures, had much shorter hospital stays, and were able to return to work and other activities more quickly. Major adverse events up to one year post-treatment were less common in the embolization group (15% versus 20%). One year after treatment, quality of life scores were the same in both groups.

There were financial benefits as well, as embolization cost about $1700 less than surgery.

Despite the benefits of embolization, treatment failure in some patients is a drawback, according to the trial investigators. Long-term follow-up revealed that 20% of patients in the embolization group needed another procedure, such as a repeat embolization treatment or surgery. Of 106 women who underwent embolization, 10 needed additional treatment in the first year post-treatment, and 11 had another treatment after one year.

For further information from the Diagnostic Imaging archives:

Fibroid embolization agent influences treatment result

Report from SIR: Gelatin microspheres may set new embolization standard

Nonsurgical uterine fibroid treatment makes advances