Published online by Cambridge University Press: 10 November 2010
Uterine artery embolization (UAE) has been introduced as a treatment option of uterine leiomyomas because it preserves the uterus and may avoid some of the risks associated with hysterectomy or myomectomy. The therapy is performed in the medical imaging (or radiology) department by interventional radiologists. Although it is considered minimally invasive therapy it does carry its own inherent side effects and potential complications. Side effects may be unavoidable and occur as the result or a consequence of the intended treatment while complications are abnormal conditions that occur during or following the treatment.
The side effects and complications of UAE can be classified as intra-operative and postoperative. Although minor side effects are experienced by virtually all patients undergoing the embolization treatment, major complications are rare, experienced by less than 1% of patients. Although this complication rate is much lower than the rates associated with hysterectomy and myomectomy some complications can be potentially serious and they should be fully disclosed to the patients.
It should be noted that since UAE is a relatively new procedure (less than 10 years old), some complications may be new and the therapists should maintain a high index of suspicion and be alert for unusual and unconventional signs and symptoms to avoid misdiagnosis of serious conditions.