HOUSTON (November 12, 2008)

Memorial Hermann Southwest Hospital offers uterine fibroid embolization to treat uterine fibroids, a common condition in the latter years of fertility for many women. An alternative to surgery, fibroid embolization employs a small vascular catheter, about the size of a pencil lead, advanced through the artery in the upper thigh to deliver tiny particles into the blood vessels that feed the fibroids. The particles block the blood flow to the fibroids, ultimately shrinking them and resolving symptoms in up to 90 percent of patients. Memorial Hermann offers this outpatient procedure close to home.

"Recovery time with fibroid embolization is significantly shorter than with hysterectomy and most patients return to their normal activities within 7-10 days. It is exciting to have this high tech minimally invasive procedure endorsed by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists as a safe and effective alternative to hysterectomy," says Dr. Carlos R. Hamilton III, of Memorial Hermann Southwest.

Common treatments for mild to moderate symptoms of uterine fibroids include pain medication and oral hormones, while women with more severe cases often undergo hysterectomy or removal of fibroids through a surgical procedure known as myomectomy.

As many as half of all women of childbearing age develop uterine fibroids, with symptoms most common among those in their 30s and 40s. Most cases are asymptomatic, but 10 to 30 percent of women with uterine fibroids seek treatment for painful or health-threatening symptoms.

While dozens of successful pregnancies have been documented after UFE, the common practice for women who want to have children is a Myomectomy.