For Physicians: Representative Cases

Case 1 | Case 2 | Case 3 | Case 4 : Personal Story

Let me begin by saying that having the Uterine Fibroid Embolization procedure to treat my fibroids was one of the best things I have done for myself in the past few years. Most things in life involve choices, trade-offs, and some pain- but this decision proved to be most beneficial for me.

I was diagnosed with uterine fibroids after a routine exam four years ago during which my gynecologist found my uterus to be enlarged. A follow up ultrasound confirmed that this was indeed caused by fibroids. My physician and I both agreed that "watchful waiting" was the best course to pursue and the optimum would be to get to menopause without surgery. However, by the fall of 1998, I knew that would not be possible. My menstrual periods had become extremely heavy to the point of gushing at various points for 2-3 days. The fibroid was also putting pressure on my bladder giving me a constant urge to urinate, making urination difficult and causing pain in my abdomen when I walked. According to my gynecologist, the fibroid was growing and my uterus was the size of a 14-week pregnancy. We discussed both myomectomy and hysterectomy as alternatives - neither, of which I wanted. I have a genetic anemia and particularly wanted to avoid surgery because I could ill afford any more blood loss.

While considering my alternatives, I came across an article in the NY Times last April about Uterine Artery Embolization - billed as a new treatment for fibroids. I immediately called the hospital on Long Island referred to in the article for more information and was pleased with what I heard. A few weeks later, I became aware of Dr. Cockerill and his practice in Norfolk and was pleased that I wouldn't have to travel to receive this care. Upon consultation with him, I decided to have the procedure.

The details of the procedure are given elsewhere on this site so I would just like to relate my experience. I chose to receive the minimum sedation possible so remained awake throughout. The arterial catheter was completely painless - I would not have known anything was inside my body. There was virtually no pain throughout the procedure itself.

The PVA pellets could be felt as tiny cramps on insertion, but that was all. The six hours post procedure were quite painful - a feeling like constant menstrual cramps. I did use the PCA pump with the pain medication, but after about six hours the pain pretty much dissipated on its own. By the time I left the hospital the next day I was pretty comfortable. I even went out to lunch. Of course everyone experiences pain differently but I believe mine is similar to others' experiences.

There are some things I would do differently. Because I felt so comfortable on leaving the hospital and my first day home, I did not fill the pain medication. Unfortunately the pain returned the middle of my second night home and I did spend some miserable hours, as it was a weekend. I would definitely take the pain medication for several days even if I thought I didn't need it. Also, the procedure itself is quite easy and not frightening at all but I think I would request more sedation. You must remain completely still for two hours post procedure - and this while in some pain - so it might have been easier had I been more sedated.

As to results: three months post procedure, the size of my uterus has been reduced by two-thirds according to my gynecologist. At 6 month follow-up my fibroid shrunk by 79%. The pressure on my bladder is gone; I do not have to find a bathroom every thirty minutes. I no longer look three to four months pregnant and my abdomen does not feel like it has a baseball inside. My menstrual periods, while heavy the first few times post procedure, have lightened up. They have also stayed quite regular and I have no symptoms of impending menopause. Possibly the greatest benefit has been an increase in my energy level. I really haven't felt so good in several years.

I chose UFE for several reasons and could not be happier with my choice. Though I knew I did not want to continue much longer with the symptoms from the fibroid, I wanted to avoid a hysterectomy at almost all costs. I was concerned about the surgical complications and blood loss. I also believe the uterus is an integral part of a woman's body and should not be discarded so easily - especially when a less invasive treatment is available. I was also concerned about the emotional effects of a hysterectomy, both the psychological effects of losing a part of my body and effects on my sexuality. There are some women for whom hysterectomy is the wise choice. In my case, I was able to have the UFE and retain my uterus and improve my well being.

Dr. Cockerill is a caring, concerned and very competent physician and he and his team did everything possible to make the procedure comfortable and easy. I truly felt he was partnering with me in the treatment of my fibroids. His explanation of the procedure and any side effects was very coherent and easily understood. He provides all information available and is very willing to answer any questions - no matter how small- before, during, and after the procedure. This was definitely the right decision for me.

Case 1 | Case 2 | Case 3 | Case 4 : Personal Story


"Having the Uterine Fibroid Embolization procedure to treat my fibroids was one of the best things I have done for myself in the past few years. I was able to have UFE and retain my uterus and improve my well being. Possibly the greatest benefit has been an increase in my energy level. I really haven't felt so good in several years."
Denise, age 45