Fertility after uterine artery embolization of fibroids: a systematic review

Arch Gynecol Obstet. 2018 Jan;297(1):13-25. doi: 10.1007/s00404-017-4566-7. Epub 2017 Oct 20.


Purpose: The impact of uterine artery embolization (UAE) for the purpose of diminishing the effect of uterine fibroids on fertility is unclear. We have investigated the reported rates of pregnancy and miscarriage after treatment of uterine fibroids with UAE.

Materials and methods: We searched for relevant information in PubMed and Embase for randomized controlled trials (RCT), controlled clinical trials, comparative before-after trials, cohort studies, case-control studies and case series where UAE treatment of premenopausal women was performed for uterine fibroids with and where a control intervention was included. The PRISMA guideline was used to do a systematic review using the main outcomes pregnancy rate and miscarriage rate. Risk of bias was assessed by the Cochrane risk of bias tool or by ROBINS-I. The quality of evidence was assessed by the GRADE approach.

Results: We included 17 studies (989 patients): 1 RCT, 2 cohort studies, and 14 case series. Pregnancy rates after UAE were 50% in the RCT and 51 and 69% in the cohort studies. Among the case series median pregnancy rate was 29%. Miscarriage rates were 64% in the RCT. Miscarriage rates at 56 and 34% were found in the cohort studies after UAE. The median miscarriage rate was 25% in the case series.

Conclusion: Pregnancy rate was found to be lower and miscarriage rate higher after UAE than after myomectomy. However, we found very low quality of evidence regarding the assessed outcomes and the reported proportions are uncertain. There is a need for improved prospective randomized studies to improve the evidence base. Systematic review registration number: CRD42016036661.

Keywords: Fertility; Miscarriage rate; Pregnancy rate; Uterine artery embolization; Uterine fibroids.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Spontaneous*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Fertility*
  • Humans
  • Infertility / etiology*
  • Leiomyoma / therapy*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Rate*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Uterine Artery Embolization / adverse effects
  • Uterine Artery Embolization / methods*
  • Uterine Myomectomy
  • Uterine Neoplasms / therapy*