BACKGROUND : Symptomatic uterine fibroids have a significant impact on women’s health. Surgical intervention (myomectomy and
hysterectomy) has been the mainstay of treatment. Women living with symptomatic uterine fibroids contribute significantly to a growing
waiting list for surgery in South African public hospitals. Uterine artery embolisation (UAE) is a newer treatment option and has shown
to be a minimally invasive, safe and effective alternative to surgery for such women.
OBJECTIVE : To evaluate the efficacy of UAE in women with symptomatic fibroid uterus.
METHODS : A prospective, observational, single-centre study of 51 women with symptomatic fibroid uterus who underwent UAE at Steve
Biko Academic Hospital from February 2007 to November 2012.
RESULTS : A total of 51 women underwent UAE, 3 of whom were lost to follow-up. The remaining 48 women were followed for a mean
duration of 43.6 months. There was a statistically significant reduction in the mean uterine and dominant myoma volumes, as well as
improvement in the haemoglobin levels (p=0.001). The mean uterine and dominant fibroid volume reductions were 38% and 58%,
respectively. Minor complications were reported in 19% of the women (fever, post-embolisation syndrome and vaginal fibroid passage
were frequently reported complications). Reintervention (hysterectomy and gonadotropin-releasing hormone analogue use) was required
in 35% of women.
CONCLUSION : UAE has a good clinical effect on fibroid volume reduction. It is a treatment option that can be considered prior to major
surgery in a select group of women with symptomatic fibroid uterus.