Radiologist Rakesh Navuluri, MD, discussing uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) with a fibroids patient
Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE), also called uterine artery embolization (UAE), is a nonsurgical procedure performed by an interventional radiologist. First performed in the U.S. in 1997, UFE is widely used around the world. Medical studies have found UFE to provide significant symptom relief in 85 to 90 percent of patients.

How We Shrink Fibroid Tumors with UFE

At the Center for the Advanced Treatment and Research (CATeR) of Uterine Fibroids, we have decades of experience performing UFE.

In this procedure, a catheter — a flexible tube, thinner than a coffee straw — is inserted into an artery in the upper thigh or wrist. Using low dose X-ray images, the interventional radiologist navigates this catheter to the uterine arteries, which supply blood to fibroid tumors. Tiny particles, which are the size of small grains of sand, are injected into the bloodstream and directed to fibroids in the uterus. These particles block the blood supply to fibroid tumors, which causes them to shrink over several months. As the fibroids get smaller and eventually resolve, patients experience symptom relief.

Benefits of UFE

UFE treats all existing fibroid tumors at one time, regardless of size, number or location, and without the need for subsequent follow-up visits.

This technique effectively shrinks fibroid tumors, while the ovaries and the uterus remain intact. UFE is often suggested as an alternative to hysterectomy.

At a Glance: UFE vs. Hysterectomy





Performed by interventional radiologist

Performed by gynecologic surgeon

Surgical or Nonsurgical

No incision, just a single needlestick in the groin or wrist

Incisions in the abdomen or through the vagina


Local anesthesia (nerve block)

General anesthesia

How It Works

Treats fibroids by shutting down their blood supply; preserves the uterus

Treats fibroids by removing the uterus

Inpatient or Outpatient

Patients usually go home the same day.

Patients usually go home the same day after minimally invasive hysterectomy or stay about two nights in the hospital after traditional, open hysterectomy.


Quick recovery (less than a week)

Longer recovery (two weeks for a minimally invasive procedure, much longer for an open procedure)


20% of patients need additional treatment after five years.

Definitive procedure; no need for additional therapies in the future

Candidates for UFE

UFE is for patients with fibroids who do not desire to become pregnant in the future. Patients may qualify regardless of the size, number or location of their fibroids.

Quick Recovery with UFE

Performed under light to moderate sedation, UFE is associated with minimal blood loss — no more than the amount given during a routine blood test. Most patients return home the same day. Since there is no incision, patients have a quick recovery and can return to work and resume normal activities within a week.

Can I get pregnant after UFE?

The effect of uterine fibroid embolization on fertility is not fully understood. If you’re considering a future pregnancy, we do not recommend that you undergo a UFE procedure. Please discuss other fibroid treatment options with your gynecologist.

UFE Specialists

Find a Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) Specialist in the Chicago Area

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To speak to someone directly, please call 1-888-824-0200. If you have symptoms of an urgent nature, please call your doctor or go to the emergency room immediately.


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Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE)