Less invasive than traditional surgery, embolization controls bleeding by using sophisticated imaging technology to apply clotting agents (e.g., coils, particles, glue) directly to an area that is bleeding or to block blood flow to a problem area. Embolization is facilitated by a sophisticated imaging technique called rotational angiography, which allows the brain to be scanned from different angles. By creating 3-D images, this technology gives the best assessment of the location, size and shape of the problem area. Lahey Clinic was the first medical center in North America to have this technology.
Embolization is often performed for the following reasons:
An anesthesiologist will give you either intravenous sedation to relax you or will put you to sleep. Devices that monitor your heart rate and blood pressure will be attached to your body. Your groin will be shaved and you could feel a slight pinch when a local anesthetic is injected to numb the groin area. After that, you should feel no pain. The interventional neuroradiologist then makes a small nick in the skin to insert a long, narrow tube called a catheter. To treat an aneurysm, your doctor uses a catheter with a small, detachable coil inside, which he then guides to the site of the aneurysm using sophisticated X-ray technology. Once the catheter reaches the site, the coil is released snugly inside the aneurysm where it prevents further blood flow, thus eliminating the chance of a life-threatening hemorrhage. In the case of an AVM, the procedure is the same, although instead of a detachable coil, particles or “crazy glue” (a strong adhesive) is injected into the malformation to dry it up and block further blood flow. Also known as endovascular (inside the vessel) embolization, this procedure is often performed before other surgery to remove an AVM or other tumor with the goal of making surgery shorter and safer by minimizing blood loss. The average embolization takes four to six hours. Most patients stay in the hospital anywhere from two to seven days. Your Lahey health care team will answer all your questions and talk to you in detail about what to expect before, during and after your procedure.