Catheter embolization places medications or synthetic materials called embolic agents (metallic coils or embolic beads) through a catheter into a blood vessel to block blood flow to an area of the body. It may be used to control or prevent abnormal bleeding, close off vessels supplying blood to a tumor, eliminate abnormal connections between arteries and veins, or to treat aneurysms. Embolization is a highly effective way to control bleeding and is much less invasive than open surgery.
An embolization is performed after an angiogram has identified the abnormal blood vessel that needs to be closed off. If it a small vessel, a smaller microcatheter is placed closer to the problem area (to protect normal structures), then the embolic agent—tiny coils, precisely sized plastic beads, or special liquids—are inserted into the abnormal area to block (close off) the blood vessel.