Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiological Society of Europe
PatientsPatients general informationIR proceduresEmbolization for post-partum haemorrhage

Embolization for post-partum haemorrhage

What is embolization for post-partum haemorrhage?

The loss of more than 500 ml of blood directly after a baby is delivered is known as post-partum haemorrhage. It is a life-threatening condition that is not uncommon. Embolization or balloon occlusion of the arteries leading to the uterus are minimally invasive treatments which seal off the bleeding vessels.

How does the procedure work?

The interventional radiologist will insert a 2-3 mm catheter (tube) into a blood vessel in the groin and will guide it under imaging to the right and left uterine arteries. They will then inject microparticles (particles which are smaller than a grain of sand), small coils or gelfoam (small sponges) into the uterine arteries, reducing blood flow to the uterus and so controlling acute bleeding. Alternatively, small balloons may temporary be placed in the arteries leading to the uterus.

Why perform it?

Without treatment, a patient suffering from post-partum haemorrhage may go into shock, which is life-threatening. Embolization and balloon occlusion are very effective procedures for controlling the bleeding. Patients can be stabilized in over 95% of cases.

What are the risks?

Minor risks include bruising in the groin. More significant risks include microparticles or coils moving to other areas of your body and blocking other arteries.


1. Lopera J, Suri R, Kroma GM, Garza-Berlanga A, Thomas J. Role of interventional procedures in obstetrics/gynecology. Radiol Clin North Am. 2013 Nov; 51(6):1049-66.
2. Wortman A, Miller DL, Donahue TF, Petersen S. Embolization of renal hemorrhage in pregnancy. Obstet Gynecol. 2013 Feb; 121(2 Pt 2 Suppl 1):480-3.