Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiological Society of Europe

Embolization for bleeding

What is the embolization procedure for bleeding?

Embolization is a minimally invasive treatment which uses biocompatible materials to block the affected blood vessel and so stop bleeding. There are a number of possible causes of bleeding severe enough to require this treatment, including trauma, blood clotting disorders, infections, anatomical defects and tumours.

How does the procedure work?

The procedure aims to stop blood flowing to the source of the bleeding whilst also preserving the blood flow to the surrounding area.

The interventional radiologist will usually insert a 2-3 mm tube into your groin or wrist and will guide this to the affected blood vessel. They will then insert small particles (called microparticles), glue or small metal spirals (coils) into the bleeding vessel or vessels. This blocks the blood flow to the site of bleeding and so stops the bleeding.

Why perform it?

The main reason for treating acute bleeding (sudden, severe bleeding) is that if too much blood is lost, the patient may go into life-threatening shock. In chronic bleeding, the procedure is performed in order to avoid anaemia and improve the quality of life.

What are the risks?

Minor risks include bruising at the puncture site (e.g. groin). More significant risks include the possibility that microparticles, glue or the coils may move to other areas of the body and block other artery branches.


1. Naseer S, Idrees S, Joels CS, Stanley JD. Minimally invasive treatment of a life-threatening hemorrhagic complication of drain removal. Am Surg. 2013 Apr; 79(4):E141-2.

2. Morishita H, Yamagami T, Matsumoto T, Asai S, Masui K, Sato H, Majima A, Sato O. Transcatheter arterial embolization with N-butyl cyanoacrylate for acute life-threatening gastroduodenal bleeding uncontrolled by endoscopic hemostasis. J Vasc Interv Radiol. 2013 Mar;