UK HealthCast: Dr. Merve Ozen on how UK HealthCare treats uterine fibroids
UK HealthCast is a podcast series featuring interviews with UK HealthCare experts on a variety of health-related topics, from how to recognize stroke symptoms to what patients need to know about clinical trials – and more.
For this episode, we spoke to interventional radiologist Dr. Merve Ozen about uterine fibroids and a non-surgical procedure, called fibroid embolization, which can be used to treat them.
What are uterine fibroids, and what causes them?
Dr. Ozen: Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous tumors of the uterus. They're not as bad, but they can grow over time and cause problems due to compression or they can cause pain and other problems.
We don't know what causes fibroids, but we know that they grow from the smooth muscle cells of the uterus.
Do fibroids require a treatment?
Dr. Ozen: Fibroids require treatment when they cause symptoms. If people find out that they have fibroids on imaging incidentally, we do not have to treat them. But if they start causing problems like bleeding or bulk symptoms like urinary problems or constipation, then we will consider a different treatment.
What is uterine fibroid embolization?
Dr. Ozen: Uterine fibroid embolization is a minimally invasive procedure. It's not a surgery. And we do this procedure under image guidance, meaning we use ultrasound and x-ray to localize the vessels of the uterus. And the uterine fibroids are the part of the uterus. And we inject very tiny beads through a very small catheter. The catheter is almost as the size of the tip of a pen. And by using x-ray, we find the uterine artery and we inject these very tiny beads under x-ray.
Who is a good candidate for UFE?
Dr. Ozen: Patients who are having bleeding problems and bulk symptoms, like urinary problems or constipation, can be a good candidate. But we always start offering the minimal invasive options like medical treatments first. And then, if that doesn't work, we continue with more invasive options like surgery or procedures. The uterine fibroid embolization procedure kills the fibroids, but it doesn't kill the uterus. This is a good alternative for patients who would like to keep their uterus and who would like to have less downtime compared to surgery like myomectomy or hysterectomy. Myomectomy means removing the myoma, meaning removing the fibroids. We have very good teamwork with the University of Kentucky Gynecology Department. We work together and we look through every patient's imaging together and we decide which patient a good candidate for surgery or minimally invasive intervention, like uterine fibroid embolization.
Listen to the UK HealthCast episode with Dr. Ozen below.