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Hum Reprod Update. 2008 May-Jun;14(3):259-74. doi: 10.1093/humupd/dmn006. Epub 2008 Mar 14.

Non-surgical management of uterine fibroids.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Largo Francesco Vito 1, 00168 Rome, Italy.



Efforts to develop alternatives to surgery for management of symptomatic uterine fibroids have provided new techniques and new medications. This review summarizes the existing literature on uterine artery embolization (UAE) and investigational studies on four newer approaches.


PubMed, Cochrane and Embase were searched up to December 2007. Studies reporting side-effects and complications and presenting numerical data on at least one outcome measure were included.


Case studies report 50-60% reduction in fibroid size and 85-95% relief of symptoms following UAE. The largest of these studies reported an in-hospital complication rate of 2.7% (90 of 3041 patients) and a post-discharge complication rate of 26% (710 of 2729 patients). Eight studies compared UAE with conventional surgery. Best evidence suggested that UAE offered shorter hospital stays (1-2 days UAE versus 5-5.8 days surgery, 3 randomized controlled trials (RCTs)) and recovery times (9.5-28 days UAE versus 36.2-63 days surgery, 3 RCTs) and similar major complication rates (2-15% UAE versus 2.7-20% surgery, 3 RCTs). Four studies analysing cost-effectiveness found UAE more cost-effective than surgery. There is insufficient evidence regarding fertility and pregnancy outcome after UAE. Five feasibility studies after transvaginal temporary uterine artery occlusion in 75 women showed a 40-50% reduction in fibroid volume and two early studies using magnetic resonance guided-focused ultrasound showed symptom relief at 6 months in 71% of 109 women. Two small RCTs assessing mifepristone and asoprisnil showed promising results.


Good quality evidence supports the safety and effectiveness of UAE for women with symptomatic fibroids. The current available data are insufficient to routinely offer UAE to women who wish to preserve or enhance their fertility. Newer treatments are still investigational.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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