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Endovascular Embolization

(Endovascular Coiling)

Pronounced: endo-vas-kyoo-lar embo-lie-zay-shun


This is a procedure to fill and/or close blood vessels. This prevents bleeding and rupture. It is an alternative to open surgery.

Reasons for Procedure    TOP

Endovascular embolization can treat many conditions, including:

Brain Aneurysm

GN00002_brain aneurysm.jpg
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

The procedure can be used alone or with other treatments. It will not fix damaged areas of the brain, but it can improve quality of life by stopping bleeding or preventing rupture.

Possible Complications    TOP

Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems.

  • General complications may include:
    • Bleeding
    • Infection
    • Blood clots
    • Reaction to the anesthesia or contrast solution
    • Ruptured aneurysm during surgery
  • Complications of treating brain lesions may include:
    • Weakness
    • Numbness or tingling
    • Speech disturbances
    • Visual changes
    • Confusion, memory loss
    • Seizures

Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:

What to Expect    TOP

Prior to Procedure

Your appointment before the surgery may include:

  • Physical exam, blood and imaging tests
  • Discussion of allergies, your medications, recent illness or conditions, risks and benefits of the procedure
  • Pictures of the blood vessels to be treated may be taken with
  • Arrange for a ride home.
  • The night before the procedure, do not eat or drink anything after midnight.
  • Discuss your medications with your doctor. You may be asked to stop taking certain medications.

Women should let their doctor know if they are pregnant or planning to become pregnant.


General anesthesia will be used. It will block any pain and keep you asleep through the surgery.

Description of the Procedure    TOP

Your blood pressure, heart rate, and pulse will be monitored. An IV will be placed in your arm for sedation and anesthesia. The groin area will be shaved and sterilized. The catheter will be inserted in this area.

TA tiny incision will be made in your groin area to access an artery. The catheter will be placed in the artery and threaded up to the site. A special dye will be given through the catheter. The catheter pathway will be able to be viewed on a monitor. X-rays will help the doctor find the exact weakened or malformed area.

Once the catheter is in position, medication, coils, stents, or other man-made material will be inserted into the catheter to the site. This will close or fill the blood vessel. Imaging tests will be done to make sure the blood vessels have closed.

Immediately After Procedure    TOP

The catheter and IV line will be removed. You will lie still for 6-8 hours.

How Long Will It Take?    TOP

30 minutes or longer—more complex procedures may take several hours.

How Much Will It Hurt?    TOP

Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medications.

Average Hospital Stay    TOP

This procedure is done in a hospital setting. The usual length of stay is 2 days. If you have any complications, you will need to stay longer.

Post-procedure Care    TOP

At the Hospital

  • You will rest for several hours in bed.
  • Your vital signs will be monitored.

During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection, such as:

  • Washing their hands
  • Wearing gloves or masks
  • Keeping your incisions covered.

There are also steps you can take to reduce your chance of infection, such as:

  • Washing your hands often and reminding your healthcare providers to do the same
  • Reminding your healthcare providers to wear gloves or masks
  • Not allowing others to touch your incision

At Home

Home care may include:

  • Physical or rehabilitative therapy
  • Following your doctor's instructions

Call Your Doctor    TOP

Contact your doctor if your recovery is not progressing as expected or you develop complications such as:

  • Any changes in physical ability, such as balance, strength, or movement
  • Any changes to mental status, such as consciousness, memory, or thinking
  • Weakness, numbness, tingling
  • Signs of infection including fever and chills
  • Redness, swelling, increasing pain, bleeding, or discharge from the incision site
  • Headache
  • Changes in vision
  • Fainting
  • Pain that cannot be controlled with the medications you've been given
  • Persistent nausea or vomiting
  • Trouble controlling your bladder and/or bowels
  • Pain, swelling, or cramping in your legs

Call for emergency medical services right away if any of the following occur: 

  • Seizure
  • Shortness of breath or chest pain
  • Loss of consciousness

If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.


The Brain Aneurysm Foundation
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke


Brain Injury Association of Canada
Heart and Stroke Foundation Canada


Catheter embolization. Radiological Society of North America Radiology Info website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated August 14, 2013. Accessed May 6, 2016.
Endovascular (embolization) treatment of aneurysms. The Toronto Brain Vascular Malformation Study Group website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed May 6, 2016.
Splenic artery aneurysm. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated February 22, 2016. Accessed May 6, 2016.
Vascular malformations in the brain. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated May 26, 2015. Accessed May 6, 2016.
Last reviewed June 2016 by Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 5/29/2014

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