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Published on February 16, 2017

Uterine artery embolization provides effective treatment for cesarean ectopic pregnancy

An ectopic pregnancy developing in a previous cesarean scar is rare—occurring in about one in 2,000 pregnancies—but the incidence is increasing as cesarean deliveries become more common.

Ezana Azene, MD

Ezana Azene, MD, Gundersen Interventional Radiology

If a patient presents with this life-threatening condition, it's good to know Gundersen interventional radiologists offer a safe and effective intervention that can preserve a woman's uterus—uterine artery embolization.

"Most ectopic pregnancies are located in the fallopian tube and are best and most easily treated with surgical evacuation by an obstetrician/gynecologist (Ob/Gyn). However, ectopic pregnancies located in other parts of the reproductive tract can pose a significant risk of life-threatening hemorrhage during surgical evacuation," states Gundersen interventional radiologist Ezana Azene, MD. "These patients may benefit from uterine artery embolization as a definitive therapy or as a way of reducing the risk of hemorrhage during and after surgical evacuation."

During uterine artery embolization, a catheter (placed via the femoral artery) delivers tiny plastic particles that block the blood supply to the ectopic pregnancy. It is an excellent option for preserving fertility and minimizing recovery time.

Uterine artery embolization is not a new procedure but rather a new application of an existing technique, according to Dr. Azene. "We perform uterine artery embolization for symptomatic uterine fibroids. This is a similar procedure."

Any woman with a pregnancy-related complication that involves hemorrhage or the risk of hemorrhage could be a candidate for embolization. "We can often stop or prevent bleeding without the need for emergency surgery. For example, placenta accreta can be a cause of postpartum hemorrhage. Embolization can stop the bleeding and allow the placental tissue to slough off or be removed by elective D&C (dilation and curettage) at a later date," says Dr. Azene.

Interventional Radiology can also help with non-bleeding-related complications during or after pregnancy. These include drainage of infected fluid collections and catheter-directed thrombolysis and thrombectomy of deep venous thrombosis.

If a patient is experiencing a potentially serious or life-threatening complication of pregnancy, an Ob/Gyn should always be involved prior to making a referral to Interventional Radiology.

To arrange a patient consult or for more information, contact Interventional Radiology via MedLink at (800) 336-5465 or in La Crosse (608) 775-5465. You may also use Epic to place in a "Consult to IR" request.

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