What Is an Endovascular Embolization (EE)?
Endovascular embolization (EE) is an invasive surgical
procedure. It’s used to treat abnormal blood vessels found in your brain, as
well as other areas of your body. This procedure is an alternative to open
surgery. It blocks blood vessels to cut off blood flow to an affected area.
Your doctor may recommend EE if you experience one of the
- brain aneurysms, which are bulging weak spots in
the walls of blood vessels in your brain
- tumors such as uterine fibroids, which can
be shrunk by blocking their blood flow
- abnormal growths in your circulatory system
- arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) of your
brain and spine, which are knots of blood vessels that are susceptible to
- excessive nosebleeds
EE can be used as the sole form of treatment, or it can be done
before another surgery. Blocking off the blood flow to a damaged area can make
Preparation for an Endovascular Embolization
EE is often performed in an emergency, in which case you
have no time for preparation. If it’s not performed as an emergency treatment,
- inform your doctor of any prescription,
over-the-counter, and herbal medications you’re taking, including aspirin or
other blood-thinning products
- let your doctor know if you drink alcohol regularly
- stop or reduce smoking if you smoke
- avoid eating and drinking for eight hours before
- arrange for someone to drive you home after your
How Is an Endovascular Embolization
EE is performed in a hospital. During the procedure, your
surgeon will make a tiny incision in your groin. A catheter is then inserted
through a large blood vessel in your leg, called your femoral artery. The
catheter is guided through your body’s circulatory system using X-rays.
When the catheter reaches the location of the abnormality to
be treated, material is injected to seal your blood vessel. A number of
different materials may be used, including:
- glues that are biologically inert, which means
they don’t interact with your tissues
- tiny plastic particles that lodge tightly in your
- metal coils
- surgical balloons
The type of material your surgeon uses will depend on the
problem that’s being treated.
What Are the Risks of an Endovascular Embolization?
The risks associated with this procedure include:
- recurring symptoms
- bleeding into your brain
- bleeding at the site of your incision
- damage to the artery where the catheter is
- failure of the blocking material
- an infection
- a stroke
This procedure is sometimes performed under general
anesthesia. Anesthesia can have risks beyond those inherent in EE. Some
potential but rare risks of anesthesia include:
- temporary mental confusion
- a heart attack
- a lung infection
- a stroke
Recovery and Outlook
You’ll probably need to stay in the hospital for one or two
days. You may need to stay longer if bleeding occurs before, during, or after
Your rate of recovery will depend on your general state of
health at the time of the procedure. Your underlying medical condition will
also affect your recovery speed.
Your outlook depends on the condition being treated. Brain
damage caused by bleeding before, during, or after the procedure may not be
reversible. The goal is to prevent damage, but AVMs and other malformations sometimes
aren’t discovered until they’ve already begun to bleed.
Most often, EE is successful and has a good outcome. It can
reduce your risk of bleeding from a burst aneurysm or other venous malformation.
It can also decrease pain from tumors and make nosebleeds less frequent.