Clinical UM Guideline

Subject:Transcatheter Uterine Artery Embolization
Guideline #:  CG-SURG-28Current Effective Date:  01/05/2016
Status:RevisedLast Review Date:  11/05/2015


This document addresses the use of transcatheter uterine artery embolization (UAE) as a treatment for fibroid tumors. UAE is a pelvic angiographic procedure used to decrease the symptoms of heavy bleeding and pelvic pain associated with fibroid tumors. Using hemostatic particles, selected vasculature providing the blood supply to the fibroids are occluded. When the blood supply is occluded, the fibroids decrease in size which reduces the symptoms.

Transcatheter UAE has also been used for treatment of other acute pelvic hemorrhagic conditions such as uterine hemorrhage and ectopic pregnancy. Transcatheter uterine artery embolization is a technique performed by an interventional radiologist.

Note: Please see the following related document for additional information:

Clinical Indications

Medically Necessary:

  1. Transcatheter uterine artery embolization is considered medically necessary as a treatment of uterine fibroids when any of the following criteria are met:
    1. Excessive uterine bleeding; or
    2. Pelvic discomfort caused by uterine fibroids (for example, acute severe pain, chronic lower abdominal pain, low back pressure, or bladder pressure with urinary frequency not due to urinary tract infection).
  2. Transcatheter uterine artery embolization is considered medically necessary in certain situations as a technique to control acute pelvic hemorrhagic conditions from something other than uterine fibroids, such as obstetric hemorrhage or ectopic pregnancy. 

Not Medically Necessary: 

  1. Transcatheter uterine artery embolization is considered not medically necessary when a criterion above has not been met.
  2. Repeat transcatheter embolization of uterine arteries to treat persistent symptoms of uterine fibroids after an initial uterine artery embolization is considered not medically necessary.

The following codes for treatments and procedures applicable to this document are included below for informational purposes. Inclusion or exclusion of a procedure, diagnosis or device code(s) does not constitute or imply member coverage or provider reimbursement policy. Please refer to the member's contract benefits in effect at the time of service to determine coverage or non-coverage of these services as it applies to an individual member.

37243Vascular embolization or occlusion, inclusive of all radiological supervision and interpretation, intraprocedural roadmapping, and imaging guidance necessary to complete the intervention; for tumors, organ ischemia, or infarction
37244Vascular embolization or occlusion, inclusive of all radiological supervision and interpretation, intraprocedural roadmapping, and imaging guidance necessary to complete the intervention; for arterial or venous hemorrhage or lymphatic extravasation
ICD-10 Procedure 
04LE3DTOcclusion of right uterine artery with intraluminal device, percutaneous approach
04LE3ZTOcclusion of right uterine artery, percutaneous approach
04LF3DUOcclusion of left uterine artery with intraluminal device, percutaneous approach
04LF3ZUOcclusion of left uterine artery, percutaneous approach
ICD-10 Diagnosis 
D25.0-D25.9Leiomyoma of uterus (fibroids)
N92.0-N92.6Excessive, frequent and irregular menstruation
O00.0-O00.9Ectopic pregnancy
O03.6Delayed or excessive hemorrhage following complete or unspecified abortion
O04.6Delayed or excessive hemorrhage following (induced) termination of pregnancy
O07.1Delayed or excessive hemorrhage following failed attempted termination of pregnancy
O08.1Delayed or excessive hemorrhage following ectopic and molar pregnancy
Discussion/General Information

Transcatheter UAE is a radiologic technique that deprives blood flow to fibroids that are present in the uterus. Restricting blood supply to these areas or tissues causes them to shrink and disintegrate. UAE involves inserting a small plastic tube into the arterial blood vessels leading to target lesions and then blocking the blood supply (a process called embolization) with one of several substances. The blockage of blood supply results in atrophy and death of the target tissue (fibroid) over a period of weeks or months. UAE has been reported to have a success rate of 81-100% (American College of Radiology [ACR], 2012).

A study by Moss and colleagues (2011) reported on a randomized comparison of UAE with surgical treatment in individuals with symptomatic uterine fibroids (REST trial). A total of 157 women were randomized in a 2:1 ratio to either UAE (n=106) or surgery (n=51). Quality of life (QOL) was assessed at 5 years using a Short Form General Health Survey (SF-GHS). The participants were followed at 12 months and no significant differences in QOL gain were found between the UAE and the surgery group. At 5 years, a total of 138/157 women were available for follow-up and no significant differences were observed between the 2 groups in 8 components of the survey. Satisfaction level at 5 years was also similar between the 2 groups and remained high at 90% in the UAE group and 87% in the surgery group. The re-intervention rate was higher at 32% in the UAE group as compared with 4% in the surgical group and the overall group size decreased from 200 to 157 due to difficulty in recruitment.

Toor and colleagues (2012) completed a meta-analysis evaluating the complication rates of UAE, adverse events, reintervention, and clinical improvement of UAE for the treatment of symptomatic fibroids. A total of 54 studies were analyzed (8159 women). There were 7 randomized controlled trials comparing UAE with an alternative therapy; 37 prospective observational studies; and 10 retrospective observational series. None of the participants received UAE for adenomyosis only. Follow-up ranged from 3-60 months. No deaths attributable to UAE were reported. A total of 270 women experienced a major complication (2.9%). The passage of fibroid tissue was the most commonly reported adverse event following UAE (326/6858 women [4.7%]). Hysterectomy occurred in 26/4903 women (0.7%). A total of 42 of the reviewed studies provided re-intervention data (from 4682 women). Reinterventions included 81 repeat UAE, 81 myomectomies, and 257 hysterectomies. A total of 30 studies (2930 women) provided clinical symptom improvement data. Clinical follow-up ranged from 0.25 to 2 years. Rates of symptomatic improvement ranged from 77.5% to 90.1% (95% confidence interval [CI]).

Another meta-analysis by Martin (2013) reported on the use, efficacy, and complications of UAE for the treatment of symptomatic uterine fibroids compared to surgery. Eight randomized, controlled trials were reviewed (350 cases of UAE and 346 cases of surgery). For those women who had UAE the most common complications were bilateral UAE failure, discharge and fever, and postembolization syndrome. Of the women who had surgery, the most common complications were urinary stress incontinence, pressure symptoms, and menorrhagia. A total of 76 non-randomized studies were reviewed (11,195 cases of UAE). The most common complications were amenorrhea, pain, and discharge and fever. The total rate of complication was 24.86%. A total of 41 case studies were reviewed (83 cases of UAE) which showed the most common complications were discharge and fever, fibroid expulsion, and fibroid amenorrhea. The total rate of complications was 0.550%. The authors note that the data must be interpreted with caution as the sample sizes were fairly limited and success rates and complication rates of UAE were related to operator experience. In a large trial with many surgeons, the efficacy and complication rate may be worse than in studies where a single or few surgeons performed the procedure. Much of the reviewed literature did not publish the rates of reintervention. Study authors emphasized that the benefits of UAE (minimally invasive procedure) should be weighed against increased reintervention rates.

Based on evaluation of the existing peer-reviewed medical literature, there is adequate evidence to support the use of UAE for the treatment of acute pelvic and obstetric hemorrhage, ectopic pregnancy, and symptomatic uterine fibroids. For the treatment of pelvic and obstetric hemorrhage, UAE has been shown to be a safe and effective method to control bleeding when compared with alternative methods, such as surgical intervention. For ectopic pregnancy, it has been illustrated that UAE is a safe and effective adjunct to methotrexate treatment, decreasing the need for surgical interventions following drug-only treatment methods that are often unsuccessful.

The presence of pedunculated fibroids has been considered a contraindication for UAE due to the fact if a pedunculated fibroid becomes septic after embolization, a hysterectomy is needed. Review of the peer-reviewed literature suggests that UAE for pedunculated fibroids may be safer than previously believed. Katsumori and colleagues (2005) reported on a retrospective study of 196 women with symptomatic uterine fibroids who were treated with UAE. A total of 12 of the 196 women were found to have pedunculated subserosal uterine fibroids (a total of 15 tumors). The follow-up period was 5 to 51 months. During follow-up, no minor or major complications were reported. One week following UAE, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) showed complete devascularization in 11/15 of the tumors. Subsequent MRI performed at 4 months and 1 year following UAE showed no tumor regrowth. The study is limited by the short follow-up period, small sample size, and retrospective study design. Another retrospective review by Smeets and colleagues (2009) reported on 716 women with symptomatic uterine fibroids treated with UAE. A total of 29 women were noted to have pedunculated fibroids (a total of 31 fibroids). With a mean follow-up of 33 months, no early or late complications occurred. A total of 4 of the 29 women required hysterectomy following UAE due to persistent symptoms, but the pedunculated fibroids were not the dominant reason and were infarcted. Despite their small sample size, these studies suggest that women with symptomatic fibroids with a pedunculated subserosal fibroid may be safely treated with UAE.

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) Clinical Practice Guidelines for uterine artery fibroid embolization (2005) cite contraindications to embolization which include pregnancy, genitourinary infection and malignancy. Andrews and colleagues (2004) also cite contraindications for uterine artery embolization to include pregnancy, infection, malignancy, coagulopathy and prior pelvic irradiation. SOGC stated in an updated guideline entitled "The management of uterine leiomyomas" the following recommendations regarding UAE:

Uterine artery occlusion by embolization or surgical methods may be offered to selected women with symptomatic uterine fibroids who wish to preserve their uterus. Women choosing uterine artery occlusion for the treatment of fibroids should be counselled regarding possible risks, including the likelihood that fecundity and pregnancy may be impacted.

An increase in uterine size due to fibroid volume is a consideration prior to UAE. A study by Choi (2013) evaluated the safety, effectiveness, and rate of complications of UAE in women with large uterine fibroids. A total of 323 women without adenomyosis underwent UAE for symptomatic uterine fibroids. The women were divided into 2 groups: group 1 (treatment group) included 63 women with a large tumor of at least 10cm in size or a uterine volume of at least 700cm and group 2 (260 women) was the control group. Group 1 demonstrated a 46.5% tumor volume reduction compared with 52% in group 2. Group 1 had a 40.7% uterine volume reduction compared with 36.3% in group 2. There were no reported significant differences in satisfaction or the presence of procedure-related complications.

Other therapies for symptomatic uterine fibroids include hysterectomy, myomectomy, hormonal therapy with gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) analogues and luteinizing-hormone releasing hormone (LHRH) analogues, and endurance until menopause when fibroids often regress.

The current published literature does not support the use of UAE for adenomyosis. A review by Popovic (2011) evaluated 15 studies in which 511 women received UAE for adenomyosis. Although 387 of the 511 women reported symptomatic relief, the authors of the review concluded that the evidence is insufficient to establish UAE as a potential first-line treatment for adenomyosis. Larger, randomized trials with sufficient follow-up periods are necessary to determine true value of UAE. In 2012, the ACR revised its Appropriateness Criteria® for the Radiologic Management of Uterine Leiomyomas and concluded that "UAE has shown early success in controlling the symptoms of bleeding with adenomyosis." However, there is a recurrence rate of approximately 40%-50% at 2 years and the long-term durability of UAE is questionable.

A retrospective study by Smeets (2012) reported on 40 women with adenomyosis who were treated with UAE. Mean clinical follow-up was 65 months. A total of 8 women required additional therapy due to insufficient symptom relief (7 hysterectomies and 1 repeat UAE). Follow-up consisted of the use of uterine fibroid symptom relief and QOL questionnaires. Of the 33 women with a preserved uterus who responded to QOL questionnaires, 29 had scores indicating they were asymptomatic, and 4 women had scores indicating substantial clinical symptoms despite embolization. This study is limited by its small sample size and retrospective design.

The current literature does not support a repeat uterine artery embolization for treatment of persistent symptoms of uterine fibroids after an initial uterine artery embolization.


Adenomyosis: A benign uterine disease in which the endometrium invades the myometrium resulting in enlargement of the uterus, menorrhagia and dysmenorrhea.

Ectopic pregnancy: A pregnancy which occurs when a fertilized egg becomes implanted outside the uterus in locations such as the fallopian tubes, cervix, ovaries or in the pelvic or abdominal space.

Embolization: The insertion of a substance through a catheter into a blood vessel to prevent the flow of blood.

Myomectomy: Procedure in which uterine fibroids are surgically removed from the uterus.

Uterine fibroids: Common and benign (non-cancerous) tumors of the uterus (also known as leiomyomata).


Peer Reviewed Publications:

  1. Badawy SZ, Etman A, Singh M, et al. Uterine artery embolization: the role in obstetrics and gynecology. Clin Imaging. 2001; 25(4):288-295.
  2. Berman JM, Guido RS, Garza Leal JG et al. 3 years outcome from the Halt Trial: A prospective analysis of radiofrequency volumetric thermal ablation of myomas. J Minim Invas Gynecol 2014.
  3. Choi HJ, Jeon GS, Kim MD, et al. Is uterine artery embolization for patients with large myomas safe and effective? A retrospective comparative study in 323 patients. J Vasc Interv Radiol. 2013; 24(6):772-778.
  4. Das R, Champaneria R, Daniels JP, Belli AM. Comparison of embolic agents used in uterine artery embolisation: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Cardiovasc Intervent Radiol. 2014; 37(5):1179-1190.  
  5. Goodwin SC, Bradley LD, Lipman JC, et al. Uterine artery embolization versus myomectomy: a multicenter comparative study. Fertil Steril. 2006; 85(1):14-21.
  6. Goodwin SC, Spies JB Uterine fibroid embolization. N Engl J Med. 2009; 361(7):690-697.
  7. Guido, RS, Maier JA, Abbott K et al. Radiofrequency volumetric thermal ablation of fibroids: A prospective, clinical analysis of two years outcome from the Halt Trial. Health Qual Life Outcomes 2013; 11 (1): 139.
  8. Gun M, Mavrogiorgis M. Cervical ectopic pregnancy: a case report and literature review. Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol. 2002; 19(3):297-301.
  9. Hirst A, Dutton S, Wu O, et al. A multi-centre retrospective cohort study comparing the efficacy, safety and cost-effectiveness of hysterectomy and uterine artery embolisation for the treatment of symptomatic uterine fibroids. The HOPEFUL study. Health Technol Assess. 2008; 12(5):1-248.
  10. Katsumori T, Akazawa K, Mihara T. Uterine artery embolization for pedunculated subserosal fibroids. AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2005; 184(2):399-402.
  11. Martin J, Bhanot K, Athreya S. Complications and reinterventions in uterine artery embolization for symptomatic uterine fibroids: a literature review and meta analysis. Cardiovasc Intervent Radiol. 2013; 36(2):395-402.
  12. McLucas B, Adler L. Uterine fibroid embolization compared with myomectomy. Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2001; 74(3):297-299.
  13. Moss JG, Cooper KG, Khaund A, et al. Randomised comparison of uterine artery embolisation (UAE) with surgical treatment in patients with symptomatic uterine fibroids (REST trial): 5-year results. BJOG. 2011; 118(8):936-944.
  14. Panagiotopoulou N, Nethra S, Karavolos S, et al. Uterine-sparing minimally invasive interventions in women with uterine fibroids: a systematic review and indirect treatment comparison meta-analysis. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2014 ;93(9):858-867.
  15. Pelage JP, Le Dref O, Soyer P. Fibroid-related menorrhagia: treatment with superselective embolization of the uterine arteries and midterm follow-up. Radiology. 2000; 215(2):428-431.
  16. Popovic M, Puchner S, Berzaczy D, et al. Uterine artery embolization for the treatment of adenomyosis: a review. J Vasc Interv Radiol. 2011; 22(7):901-909.
  17. Salazar GM, Petrozza JC, Walker TG. Transcatheter endovascular techniques for management of obstetrical and gynecologic emergencies. Tech Vasc Interv Radiol. 2009; 12(2):139-147.
  18. Smeets AJ, Nijenhuis RJ, Boekkooi PF, et al. Long-term follow-up of uterine artery embolization for symptomatic adenomyosis. Cardiovasc Intervent Radiol. 2012; 35(4):815-819.
  19. Smeets AJ, Nijenhuis RJ, Boekkooi PF, et al. Safety and effectiveness of uterine artery embolization in patients with pedunculated fibroids. J Vasc Interv Radiol. 2009; 20(9):1172-1175.
  20. Spies JB, Bradley LD, Guido R, et al. Outcomes from leiomyoma therapies: comparison with normal controls. Obstet Gynecol. 2010; 116(3):641-652.
  21. Toor SS, Jaberi A, Macdonald DB, et al. Complication rates and effectiveness of uterine artery embolization in the treatment of symptomatic leiomyomas: a systematic review and meta-analysis. AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2012; 199(5):1153-1163.
  22. van der Kooij SM, Hehenkamp WJ, Volkers NA, et al. Uterine artery embolization vs hysterectomy in the treatment of symptomatic uterine fibroids: 5-year outcome from the randomized EMMY trial. J Obstet Gynecol. 2010; 203(2):105.e1-e13.
  23. Yousefi S, Czeyda-Pommersheim F, White AM, et al. Repeat uterine artery embolization: indications and technical findings. J Vasc Interv Radiol. 2006; 17(12):1923-1929.

Government Agency, Medical Society, and Other Authoritative Publications:

  1. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Practice Bulletin Number 96. Alternatives to hysterectomy in the management of leiomyomas. Obstet Gynecol. 2008; 112(2 Pt 1):387-400. Reaffirmed 2012.
  2. American College of Radiology. ACR Appropriateness Criteria®. Radiologic Management of Uterine Leiomyomas. Last reviewed 2012. Available at: Accessed on September 18, 2015.
  3. Andrews RT, Spies JB, Sacks D, et al. Patient care and uterine artery embolization for leiomyomata. J Vasc Interv Radiol. 2004; 15(2 Pt 1):115-120.
  4. Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. Uterine artery embolization for treatment of symptomatic uterine fibroids assessment. TEC Assessment, 2002; 17(8).
  5. Gupta JK, Sinha A, Lumsden MA, et al. Hickey M.Uterine artery embolization for symptomatic uterine fibroids.Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014;12:CD005073.
  6. National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. Interventional procedure guidance 367. Uterine artery embolisation for fibroids. November 2010. Available at: Accessed on September 18, 2015.
  7. Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada. SOGC clinical practice guidelines. Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE). Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2005; 89(3):305-318.
  8. Vilos GA, Allaire C, Laberge PY, et al. Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) Clinical Practice Guideline. The management of uterine leiomyomas. J Obstet Gynaecol Can. 2015; 37(2):157-181.

Embolization of Uterine Artery for Treatment of Fibroid Tumors
Fibroid Tumors, Uterine Artery Embolization for the Treatment of
Uterine Artery Embolization for Treatment of Fibroid Tumors

Revised11/05/2015Medical Policy & Technology Assessment Committee (MPTAC) review. Updated formatting in Criteria. Updated Discussion/General Information and Reference sections. Removed ICD-9 codes from Coding section.
Reviewed11/13/2014MPTAC review. Updated Discussion/General Information and Reference sections.
Revised11/14/2013MPTAC review. Removed list of contraindications from Not Medically Necessary statement and clarified Not Medically Necessary statement. Updated Discussion/General Information, Definitions, and References. Updated Coding section with 01/01/2014 CPT changes; removed CPT 37204, 37210 deleted 12/31/2013, and 75894 (no longer applicable).
Revised11/08/2012MPTAC review. Added adenomyosis to Not Medically Necessary Clinical Indications. Updated Discussion/General Information and References.
Reviewed02/16/2012MPTAC review. Updated Discussion/General Information, Definitions, and References.
 10/01/2011Updated Coding section with 10/01/2011 ICD-9 changes.
Reviewed02/17/2011MPTAC review. Updated References.
Reviewed02/25/2010MPTAC review. Discussion and References updated.
Reviewed02/26/2009MPTAC review. Place of Service removed. References updated.
Revised02/21/2008MPTAC review. Medically necessary criteria clarified. Discussion and References updated.  
 08/03/2007References updated.
New03/08/2007MPTAC review. Initial guideline development. SURG.00018 Transcatheter Uterine Artery Embolization transferred to CG-SURG- 28 Transcatheter Uterine Artery Embolization. References updated.