Endovascular coil embolization is a procedure to fill or close blood vessels. This prevents bleeding and rupture. It is an alternative to open surgery.
Reasons for Procedure
Endovascular embolization can treat many conditions such as:
- Brain aneurysm —a weakened blood vessel in the brain that collects blood and can bleed
- Splenic artery aneurysm—a weakened blood vessel that may cause the spleen to rupture
- Vascular malformations —abnormal connections between arteries and veins
- Gastrointestinal tract bleeding
- Uterine fibroids
- Varicose veins
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Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will talk about possible problems such as:
- Problems from anesthesia or imaging contrast dye
- Blood clots
- Damage to other organs or structures
Treating brain lesions may cause:
- Weakness, numbness, or tingling
- Problems with speech, vision, thinking, or memory
Things that may raise the risk of problems are:
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
The care team may meet with you to talk about:
- Anesthesia options
- Any allergies you may have
- Current medicines, herbs, and supplements that you take and whether you need to stop taking them before surgery
- Fasting before surgery, such as avoiding food or drink after midnight the night before
- Whether you need a ride to and from surgery
- Tests that will need to be done before the procedure
The doctor will give general anesthesia. You will be asleep.
Description of the Procedure
A tiny incision will be made in the groin to access an artery. A thin, hollow tube (catheter) will be placed in the artery. It will be threaded up to the site. A special dye is injected. It makes it easier to see on a video monitor. X-rays will help the doctor find the right place. The blood vessel can be closed with:
- Other man-made material
They are inserted though the catheter and to the site. Imaging tests will confirm the blood vessels are closed. The catheter will be removed. The incision will be closed and bandaged.
How Long Will It Take?
30 minutes to several hours—the time depends on what needs to be done
Will It Hurt?
Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Medicines will ease pain after.
Average Hospital Stay
Normally, the length of stay is 2 days. If there are problems, you may need to stay longer.
At the Hospital
During your stay, the healthcare staff will take steps to lower your risk of infection such as:
- Washing their hands
- Wearing gloves or masks
- Keeping your incisions covered.
There are also steps you can take to lower your risk of infection such as:
- Washing your hands often and reminding visitors and staff to do the same
- Reminding staff to wear gloves or masks
- Not letting others touch your incision
Recovery may take a few weeks. Some activities may be limited during this time. You may also need physical therapy.
Call Your Doctor
Call your doctor if you have:
- Fever or chills
- Redness, swelling, excess bleeding, or discharge from the incision site
- Lasting nausea or vomiting
- Pain that you cannot control with the medicines
- Problems with thinking, balance, or movement
- Weakness, numbness, or tingling
- Headaches, fainting, vision problems, or problems passing urine or stool (poop)
- Pain, swelling, or cramping in your legs
Call for medical help right away for:
- Problems breathing
- Chest pain
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
Brain Aneurysm Foundation
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Brain Injury Canada
Heart and Stroke Foundation
Catheter embolization. Radiology Info—Radiological Society of North America website. Available at: https://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=cathembol. Accessed September 6, 2021.
Endovascular (embolization) treatment of aneurysms. The Toronto Brain Vascular Malformation Study Group website. Available at: http://brainavm.oci.utoronto.ca/malformations/embo_treat_aneurysm_index.htm. Accessed September 6, 2021.
Rinkel GJE. Management of patients with unruptured intracranial aneurysms. Curr Opin Neurol. 2019;32(1):49-53.
Splenic artery aneurysm (SAA). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/splenic-artery-aneurysm-saa. Accessed September 6, 2021.
Vascular malformations in the brain. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/vascular-malformations-in-the-brain. Accessed September 6, 2021.
Last reviewed July 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Nicole Meregian, PA Last Updated: 9/6/2021