What Is Embolization?

Embolization is a non-surgical, minimally invasive endovascular procedure in which select blood vessels are blocked using emboli. This prevents blood flow to an area of the body in order to shrink a tumor or block an aneurysm.

A radiologist determines the position of the correct artery or vein supplying the treatment area using digital subtraction angiography (DSA). The angiography images are used as a map for the radiologist to access the correct vessel. The radiologist then selects an appropriate catheter and/or guidewire based on the shape of the surrounding anatomy and uses them to reach the organ being treated. Depending on the organ, this process varies in difficulty and time.

It is common for most patients to require little or no sedation during an embolization, although this depends largely on the organ being treated. Patients who undergo cerebral embolization or portal vein embolization are usually given a general anesthetic.

Common Uses for Embolization
Embolization is used to treat a wide variety of conditions affecting different organs of the human body.

Hemorrhage
The treatment is used to occlude:

  • Arteriovenous malformation (AVM)
  • Cerebral aneurysm
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Epistaxis (nose bleed)
  • Primary post-partum hemorrhage (bleeding)
  • Surgical hemorrhage (bleeding)

Growths
The treatment is used to slow or stop blood supply and reduce the size of:

  • Liver lesions, typically hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), treated either by particle infarction or trans-catheter arterial chemoembolization (TACE)
  • Kidney lesions
  • Uterine fibroids

What Are the Advantages?
Embolization is a minimally invasive procedure, so there is no surgical incision, little scarring and a minimal risk of infection. Most patients require only local anesthesia rather than general anesthesia. Risks and recovery time are often significantly reduced, and embolization has a high success rate compared to other procedures.

What to Expect
Prior to appointments, Gwinnett Medical Center patients are asked to come in for routine lab work. It is preferred that patients have their lab work performed at Gwinnett Medical Center so the radiology nurses have access to the results. Our radiology nurses call each patient shortly after the procedure is scheduled to obtain a health history and provide instructions.

For most interventional radiology exams, patients need to arrive in admissions two hours before their scheduled procedure time on the day of the exam. Patients will check in at admissions before being taken to the Imaging Nursing Unit, where an interventional radiologist will come to talk with the patient before the procedure. The patient will then be prepped for the exam and taken to the Interventional Radiology Suite for the procedure. Following the procedure, the patient will return to the Imaging Nursing Unit for recovery. The recovery time varies based on the procedure. After the patient is then discharged, he or she will receive a follow-up call the next day.

Call 678-312-3444 to schedule an appointment at one of our convenient locations in Lawrenceville, Duluth or Hamilton Mill.