Endovascular embolization is a procedure undertaken to treat abnormal blood vessels, which are at risk of rupture or bleeding when open surgery is considered too risky or impossible to perform. The procedure is also known as endovascular embolism, coil embolization, endovascular repair…etc. It is mostly employed in the treatment of abnormal blood vessels in the brain and its ultimate objective would be to cut off the blood supply to a certain region in the body, which would arrest an ongoing, or a potential risk of bleeding.
Indications for endovascular embolization
As mentioned earlier, the procedure is most often used in treating brain aneurysms where open surgery is too risky to perform. However, not all aneurysms need endovascular embolization as tiny aneurysms of less than 3 mm could be left alone without any danger. Among the other conditions that would benefit from endovascular embolization arteriovenous malformation, carotid artery cavernous fistulae and certain tumors should be highlighted.
Endovascular embolization is usually performed under sedation or else under general anesthesia. In order to perform the embolization, a catheter is introduced through a large artery of the lower limb usually via the femoral artery. A dye would be injected through the catheter and will aide in visualizing the path or the blood vessel in which the catheter is being introduced. The clinicians will gradually advance the catheter to the place where the abnormal blood vessel is present. Following placing the catheter in the right place, the health care provider will place small plastic particles, glue, metal coils, foam or a balloon to seal off the blood vessel. After placing the suitable material at the site, the catheter can be withdrawn safely.
A patient undergoing endovascular embolization usually has to stay for 1 to 2 days in the hospital although any complications of the procedure or else the state of the patients’ general health may cause delays in hospital discharge.
Risks associated with endovascular embolization
Although the risks associated with endovascular embolization can be minimized through modern technologies and through meticulous preparation, there are certain risks that might anyway take place. Among them, bleeding from the needle site, bleeding in the brain, damage to the artery in which the needle and the catheter was introduced as well as infections should be highlighted. At the same time, a dislodging of the coil or the balloon that was inserted may also take place. In certain instances, the procedure may not completely treat the abnormal blood vessel, which may necessitate further treatment in the future. In addition, the disruption of the blood supply to regions in the brain may also cause debilitating strokes as well. However, risk of such events would be minimal in the hands of an expert who performs the procedure at a laboratory with an excellent record.