Embolization for bleeding

What is embolization for bleeding?

Embolization is a minimally invasive procedure against bleeding in which the affected blood vessel is blocked. The interventional radiologist will insert a small tube (2-3 mm) into your groin, and navigate it towards the affected blood vessel. Small embolic materials such as microparticles, glue, or a metallic occluding coil are inserted into the blood vessel(s) to block the vessel and stop the bleeding.

Treatment for bleeding is most often given when the blood loss reaches a point at which the patient is at risk of life-threatening shock. 

What to expect?

The procedure will take approximately 1 to 3 hours on average. You will get local anesthesia before the procedure. The interventional radiologist will administer a contrast agent through a catheter for greater imaging visibility of the region. The interventional radiologist will then navigate to the tumor where he or she will release the embolic microparticles.

Most patients will experience some pain or nausea after the procedure. We can provide painkillers and anti-nausea medication. Some patients can go home later that day, although most will have to spend several days at the hospital.

What are the potential risks and complications?

Relative risks include bruising around the groin, bleeding, and bruising or infection in the area where the substance was administered. The most common complication is the post-embolization syndrome, which occurs in about 20 to 70% of patients. Symptoms include fatigue, mild fever, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.

A small number of patients turn out to be allergic to the contrast agent. The iodine in this contrast medium may, in very rare cases, affect the kidneys. 

A rare complication is nontarget embolization. This means that the embolic material is accidentally delivered into the regular blood vessels where it may destroy healthy tissue or limit the blood flow to an organ. Another rare complication is abdominal bleeding, which may require blood transfusions.