Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiological Society of Europe

Embolization for haemoptysis

What is haemoptysis embolisation?

Haemoptysis is the medical term for coughing up blood or bloody mucus from your lungs or airway. Massive haemoptysis is defined as more than 200 ml of blood coughed up within a period of 24 hours or less. The causes of haemoptysis include blunt trauma, infections, tumours and defects in the lung.

Haemoptysis embolization is a minimally invasive procedure which deliberately blocks the bleeding vessel, such as the bronchial arteries or pulmonary veins.

How does the procedure work?

The aim of the procedure is to stop the blood flowing into the blood vessels which are causing the haemoptysis whilst also preserving blood flow to the surrounding area.

The interventional radiologist will insert a 2-3 mm tube into your groin and will guide it under imaging to the affected blood vessel. Small particles (microparticles) or small metal spirals (coils) will be inserted into the bleeding vessel or vessels. This causes the vessel or vessels to become blocked and so stops the bleeding.

Why perform it?

There are two main reasons why it is important to treat haemoptysis. If too much blood is lost, the patient may go into shock, which is life-threatening. There is also the risk of the patient inhaling the blood: if the patient breathes in too much blood, they may drown or develop life-threatening pneumonia.

What are the risks?

Minor risks include bruising in the groin. More significant risks include the possibility that microparticles or the coils may move to other areas of the body and block other artery branches.


1. Lorenz J, Sheth D, Patel J. Bronchial artery embolization. Semin Intervent Radiol. 2012 Sep; 29(3):155-60.
2. Hurt K, Bilton D. Haemoptysis: diagnosis and treatment. Acute Med. 2012; 11(1):39-45. Review.