What is embolization?

Also known as: catheter embolization, endovascular embolization.

Embolization is a minimally invasive, image-guided procedure where coils, glue, balloons, chemical agents or other materials are injected into an artery or vein to stop or decrease blood flow to a specific area of the body. It’s used to treat a number of medical conditions to stop or prevent serious bleeding, reduce or stop blood flow to an aneurysm, arteriovenous malformations (a collection of abnormally connected blood vessels), other vascular malformations, tumors, excessive nosebleeds, among others.

What happens during the procedure?

Embolization is typically performed by an interventional radiologist who will make a  small incision into an appropriate vessel, a needle will inserted into the vessel and a catheter (long thin tube) will be advanced through the needle to the affected area’s blood vessel. After x-rays are taken to ensure the catheter is in the best vessel, the embolic agent is injected.

Is any special preparation needed?

A number of laboratory tests will be done before the procedure. Your child will need to stop taking certain medications and to stop eating, and drinking before the procedure is performed as either sedation or general anesthesia will be used.

What are the risk factors?

While embolization is relatively safe, a number of side effects (some serious) may occur. These include being exposed to X-rays, bleeding, artery damage, infection, tenderness bruising or swelling where the catheter is put into the vessel, stroke, failure to block the vessel, stroke, blindness, allergic reactions, reduced kidney function  and others.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: 1/29/2019 3:21:13 PM

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