Embolisation

What is Embolisation?

Embolisation is the blockage of blood vessels using special material performed by a highly trained specialist known as an Interventional Radiologist.

Embolisation has been performed for decades in emergencies for treatment of bleeding (haemorrhage) due to trauma, surgery or other conditions. This was how both UAE and PAE were first discovered to be effective treatment options for fibroids and prostatic urinary tract symptoms. The techniques are mature, safe and effective. A high level of dedicated training however is required to become an expert.

The role of embolisation procedures has widened in the past ten to twenty years and there are now safe and effective embolisation options to treat a range of conditions.

Is it permanent?

Various materials can be used during embolisation depending on the condition being treated. The IR is expert in using the best and most appropriate method. There are no concerns with airport security. Metal coils can cause some interference on CT and MRI scans but modern scanners, including those used at NBIR can overcome this.

  • Coils – these special tiny metal fibres are used in internal bleeding or in the case of aneurysms. These remain inside the body and have been used for over 40 years. When delivered safely there are no adverse long term effects.
  • Particles – known as spheres or beads, these are used in the treatment of fibroids and prostate disease. These can also be used to deliver targeted chemotherapy in the liver. These are also permanent and allow treatment of whole organs, often leading to shrinkage of the organ or death of the tumour.
  • Gelfoam – in the setting of trauma or bleeding after childbirth this special material is used which usually dissolves in a few months.
  • Glue – this ‘medical superglue’ (link to external glue article) has been used for decades in the treatment of bleeding and liver disease. Dr Quigley has extensive experience in its use during portal vein embolisation where it is used to grow healthy liver prior to cancer treatment. This glue is permanent and does not cause long-term problems.
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