Posts Tagged ‘embolization’

What Is a Catheter Embolization?

iStock_000006042109Large-revAt Peninsula Radiology Associates, we believe patient education is an important facet of our services. We know that many of our patients like to familiarize themselves with procedures before we meet them. One of the procedures frequently performed is called catheter embolization.

What Is a Catheter Embolization?

Embolization, also known as catheter embolization, is a radiologic procedure used to introduce medications or synthetic embolic agents into a blood vessel to occlude — or block — blood flow. This procedure is often indicated to:

  • Stop abnormal bleeding, particularly gastrointestinal or pelvic bleeding.
  • Eliminate abnormal connections between arteries and veins, including AVMs (arteriovenous malformations) and AVFs (arteriovenous fistulas).
  • Cut blood supply to a tumor, including benign (non-cancerous) uterine fibroids in women and cancerous tumors in both men and women. Following embolization, a malignant tumor may shrink or grow more slowly, making chemotherapy and/or surgery more effective patient options.
  • Treat aneurysms, which are bulges or sacs formed in weak artery walls.
  • Treat varicoceles — enlarged veins — in the scrotum, which may contribute to infertility.

Embolization is a highly effective procedure, which can be performed on an outpatient basis. It helps you avoid more invasive surgical treatments or interventions for these and other common conditions when used alone. Catheter embolization may also be combined with other treatments such as surgery or radiation.

What To Expect During the Catheter Embolization Procedure?

During catheter embolization, a physician called an interventional radiologist will use fluoroscopy — an imaging process that is similar to X-rays, but provides live, real-time moving images of your body — to carefully guide a catheter to the area within your body requiring treatment. A catheter is a long, thin plastic tube measuring about one-eighth of an inch in diameter that can be threaded safely through your arterial system.

Once your catheter has been placed, your physician injects a contrast material with iodine through it so that X-rays can be taken to indicate the precise site of your bleeding or abnormality. Then your interventional radiologist inserts the appropriate embolic agent through the catheter. The precise agent placed depends on the condition for which you are being treated. Common embolic agents include:

  • Acrylic polymer spheres, which are used to permanently block small blood vessels.
  • Small metallic coils, which are frequently used to permanently stop abnormal bleeding.
  • Liquid sclerosing agents, which are chemicals designed to cause scarring in a blood vessel that permanently seals the vessel.

Post Procedure Recommendations

You are normally sedated, using either a moderate or general anesthetic, and fitted with an IV (intravenous) drip and monitors for your vital signs at the start of the procedure.

Since arteries have no sensation, you should not experience any discomfort from the catheter once it has been inserted. You may experience a warm feeling from the contrast dye or other sensations when your embolic agent is administered, depending on your level of sedation. X-rays are taken to verify the success of the procedure.

Bed rest is recommended for at least six to eight hours following your procedure. You may experience some side effects after catheter embolization. Pain is a common one and is controlled by either oral medication or medication administered through your IV.

To schedule an appointment at Peninsula Radiology Associates, please call (757) 989-8830. We are proud to be affiliated with the Riverside Hospital system and have seven locations throughout Hamptons Roads to serve you. Please contact us with any questions about catheter embolization or the many other procedures and services our board-certified radiologists and experienced team expertly and compassionately provide.

What is Embolization and is it the Right Choice for You?

embolizationEmbolization is a way of therapeutically cutting off a supply of blood to a particular part of the body. This procedure can be used to prevent internal bleeding, stop the flow of blood to a tumor, treatment of aneurysms or to resolve abnormal connections between veins and arteries. Embolization is a less invasive way to address blood flow concerns than open surgery.

The benefits of embolization include:

  • Less Complications – Given that this is a less invasive procedure than open surgery the risk factors are reduced for patients.
  • No Surgical Incision – This procedure only requires a nick in the skin to insert the catheter and therefore no stitches are required.
  • Brief Hospital Stay – Most people need to stay in the hospital only the night after the procedure. Normal activities can usually begin in approximately one week.
  • Options When Surgery is Not Recommended – This method can be used to treat tumors and other vascular issues that can’t be removed surgically or would pose too great of a risk if surgery was attempted.

The procedure is done with the aid of x-ray imaging and a contract material so the blood vessel can be seen clearly. The doctor inserts a catheter into the blood vessel and moves it up to the area that needs to be treated. The catheter is a long, thin plastic tube that fits inside the vein or artery, it is approximately 1/8 inch in diameter so you can compare it to being smaller than a pencil lead used in a mechanical pencil. Once the catheter is positioned properly an embolic agent is inserted through the catheter and this synthetic material or medication is placed for the treatment.

Different types of embolic agents can be used depending on the size of the blood vessel and whether the agent need to be a permanent or temporary solution.
Embolization can provide treatment for a variety of medical needs, so discuss your particular situation with the doctor and they can answer your questions about the benefits and risks of their recommended course of treatment.

Embolization can be performed by the providers of Peninsula Radiology Associates. If your doctor has recommended embolization as the appropriate procedure for you, and you would like more information, please contact us at (757) 989-8830. We would be happy to help you decide if it’s right for you!

Dr. Newsome Featured in Hope Magazine

cancer information Our very own, Dr. Janice Newsome was featured in the latest issue of HOPE Magazine. HOPE Magazine is the first and only publication dedicated exclusively to world-class cancer care in the Hampton Roads region and guided by the expertise of a local physician Advisory Board.

Dr. Newsome was featured in an article aimed at understanding liver cancer. The liver can be affected by primary liver cancer, which starts in the liver, or by cancer, which forms in other sites and then spreads to the liver. Most liver cancer is secondary or metastatic, meaning it started elsewhere in the body.

Because the liver is made up of several different types of cells, several types of tumors can form in the liver. Some of these are benign, and some are cancerous and can spread to other parts of the body. These tumors have different causes and are treated differently.

The two treatment methods discussed by Dr. Newsome include ablation and embolization.

Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is one treatment option for patients who are not candidates for liver transplants. “RFA is an excellent treatment for tumors smaller than 3 cm,” says Dr. Janice Newsome. This minimally invasive treatment for liver cancer uses an image-guided technique that heats and destroys cancer cells.

Another treatment method is embolization, which work by blocking the blood supply to tumors. “This is done by placing a small catheter into the femoral artery through a small nick in the groin and feeding it under image guidance to the problem area,” Dr. Newsome explains. “The catheter can be placed directly into the artery supplying the tumor, then deliver various tiny clotting agents (beads) to stop the blood flow to a tumor, causing it to shrink and die.”

In transcatheter arterial chemoembolization (TACE), the same process is used, but with cancer fighting drugs impregnated into the beads. “Since the chemotherapy doesn’t go into the blood stream, we can give higher and higher doses without worrying about systemic attacks on organs that aren’t involved,” Dr. Newsome states.

Dr. Newsome emphasizes that these minimally invasive techniques not only control the disease process in the liver, but in some instances can downstage organ involvement and allow the cancer to be cut out.

“We know that combination therapy is the future of treatment for primary liver cancer,” Dr. Newsome says. Using Nexavar with transarterial chemoembolization – using radiofrequency ablation with TACE and other variations – such studies are ongoing, and the results will change our treatment and ultimately help our patients.”