Endovascular embolization (EE) or endovascular coiling 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 following conditions:
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 bleeding
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 surgery safer.
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, you should:
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 your procedure
Arrange for someone to drive you home after your procedure
How Is an Endovascular Embolization Performed? 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 blood vessel
The type of material your surgeon uses will depend on the problem that’s being treated.