This is a procedure to fill and/or close blood vessels. This prevents bleeding and rupture. It is an alternative to open surgery.
Reasons for Procedure
Endovascular embolization can treat many conditions, including:
- Brain aneurysm —a weakened blood vessel in the brain that collects blood and can bleed
- Vascular malformations —abnormal connections between arteries and veins (usually present at birth)
The procedure can be used alone or with other treatments. It will not fix damaged areas of the brain, but it can improve quality of life by stopping bleeding or preventing rupture.
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
- Numbness or tingling
- Speech disturbances
- Visual changes
- Confusion, memory loss
- Reaction to the anesthesia or contrast solution
- Blood clots
- Ruptured aneurysm during surgery
Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
Your appointment before the surgery may include:
- Physical exam, blood and imaging tests
- Discussion of allergies, your medications, recent illness or conditions, risks and benefits of the procedure
- Pictures of the blood vessels to be treated may be taken with
- Arrange for a ride home.
- The night before the procedure, do not eat or drink anything after midnight.
- Discuss your medications with your doctor. You may be asked to stop taking certain medications.
Women should let their doctor know if they are pregnant or planning to become pregnant.
General anesthesia will be used. It will block any pain and keep you asleep through the surgery.
Description of the Procedure
The doctor will monitor your blood pressure, heart rate, and pulse. An IV will be placed in your arm for sedation and anesthesia. The nurse will shave and sterilize the groin area. The catheter will be inserted in this area.
The doctor will make a tiny incision in your groin area to access an artery. The catheter will be placed in the artery and threaded up to the site. A special dye will be given through the catheter. The doctor will be able to see the catheter pathway on a monitor. X-rays will help the doctor find the exact weakened or malformed area.
Once the catheter is in position, medication, coils, or man-made material will be inserted into the catheter to the site. This will close or fill the blood vessel. Imaging tests will be done to make sure the blood vessels have closed.
Immediately After Procedure
The catheter and IV line will be removed. You will lie still for 6-8 hours.
How Much Will It Hurt?
Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medications.
Average Hospital Stay
This procedure is done in a hospital setting. The usual length of stay is 2 days. If you have any complications, you will need to stay longer.
At the Hospital
- You will rest for several hours in bed.
- Your vital signs will be monitored.
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection, such as:
- Washing their hands
- Wearing gloves or masks
- Keeping your incisions covered.
There are also steps you can take to reduce your chance of infection, such as:
- Washing your hands often and reminding your healthcare providers to do the same
- Reminding your healthcare providers to wear gloves or masks
- Not allowing others to touch your incision
Call Your Doctor
It is important for you to monitor your recovery after you leave the hospital. Alert your doctor to any problems right away. If any of the following occur, call your doctor:
- Any changes in physical ability, such as balance, strength, or movement
- Any changes to mental status, such as consciousness, memory, or thinking
- Weakness, numbness, tingling
- Signs of infection including fever and chills
- Redness, swelling, increasing pain, bleeding, or discharge from the incision site
- Changes in vision
- Pain that cannot be controlled with the medications you've been given
- Persistent nausea or vomiting
- Trouble controlling your bladder and/or bowels
- Pain, swelling, or cramping in your legs
Call for emergency medical services right away if any of the following occurs:
- Shortness of breath or chest pain
- Loss of consciousness
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
The Brain Aneurysm Foundation
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Brain Injury Association of Canada
Heart and Stroke Foundation Canada
Catheter embolization. Radiological Society of North America Radiology Info website. Available at: http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=cathembol. Updated August 14, 2013. Accessed May 29, 2014.
Endovascular (embolization) treatment of aneurysms. The Toronto Brain Vascular Malformation Study Group website. Available at: http://brainavm.oci.utoronto.ca/malformations/embo_treat_aneurysm_index.htm. Accessed May 29, 2014.
Subarachnoid hemorrhage. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated May 2, 2014. Accessed May 29, 2014.
Last reviewed June 2015 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.