The catheter used for diagnostic angiography may be used for vessel occlusion, utilizing the selective introduction of so called embolic particles or devices. These devices will cause clotting of the target vessels of certain organs or territories. A typical indication for this type of procedure is to control active bleeding into the lumen of the bowel (also called GI bleeding). Other abnormalities may be treated as well with embolization, such as a vascular malformation or tumor.
Bleeding is the most common indication for an embolization procedure. An ulcer in the digestive tract, stomach, or bowel, can bleed in certain circumstances. Embolization (vessel occlusion) may control permanently the bleeding with minimal risks and sparing a major surgical procedure to the patient. Sparing the patient a major surgical procedure is the greatest advantage of embolization. In other cases, surgery can be delayed until the patient is stable, making it much safer.
Risks and complications of embolization are few but serious and may be related to occlusion of non-target vessels and organs, potentially causing damage to healthy adjacent organs. These complications may require surgical treatment or some form of endovascular procedure to control damage.