What is embolisation for post-partum haemorrhage?
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for patients who have given birth to haemorrhage, meaning they lose a lot of blood after the baby is delivered. This is known as post-partum haemorrhage, and can be life-threatening. Embolisation is a minimally invasive treatment which seals 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 your 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) into the uterine arteries, reducing blood flow to the uterus and so controlling acute bleeding.
Why perform it?
Without treatment, a patient suffering from post-partum haemorrhage may go into shock, which is life-threatening. The embolisation procedure is successful in controlling the bleeding and stabilising the patient 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.