Nonresective treatments for uterine fibroids: a systematic review of uterine and fibroid volume reductions

Int J Hyperthermia. 2019;36(1):295-301. doi: 10.1080/02656736.2018.1564843. Epub 2019 Jan 24.


Patients are increasingly seeking uterus-preserving, minimally invasive treatments for symptomatic uterine fibroids. This has led to a greater use of nonresective treatments such as uterine artery embolization (UAE), focused ultrasound (FUS) and more recently, radiofrequency ablation (RFA) of fibroids. This systematic review, following PRISMA guidelines, examines the change in uterine and fibroid volumes associated with UAE, FUS, and RFA. Pubmed and MedlinePlus databases were searched from 1956 to 2016. The keywords used were 'radiofrequency ablation,' 'magnetic resonance guided focused ultrasound,' 'ultrasound guided focused ultrasound', 'uterine artery embolization,' 'uterine fibroid embolization,' and 'leiomyoma' or 'fibroid'. Publications with at least 20 patients were included. Data were collected and analyzed using Microsoft Excel® (Microsoft Corporation, Redmond, WA) software. Eighty-one relevant papers were identified: 52 related to UAE, 11 to RFA, 17 to FUS, 1 compared UAE and FUS. We report the published uterine volume and fibroid volume changes seen in these studies at 1 to 36 months. The pooled fibroid volume reductions at six months seen with RFA were 70%, UAE 54% and FUS 32%. All three types of nonresective treatment result in fibroid volume reduction. However, fibroid volume reduction is most marked with RFA, with UAE resulting in the next most volume reduction. Additional larger cohort studies, including those that are randomized and/or comparative, would enable definitive conclusions. This is the first systematic review comparing uterine and fibroid volume reduction after RFA, UAE and MRgFUS.

Keywords: Radiofrequency ablation; fibroid; leiomyoma; magnetic resonance-guided focused ultrasound; ultrasound-guided focused ultrasound; uterine artery embolization; uterine fibroid embolization; volume.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leiomyoma / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome