Vascular embolisation

A procedure to block blood vessels to a tumour or to stop bleeding

Having a vascular embolisation will help to treat cancer or stop bleeding without needing to have surgery


Vascular embolisation can shrink or slow down the growth of a tumour by reducing or blocking its blood supply, depriving it of the oxygen or nutrients it needs to grow. It can also be used to stop bleeding from a damaged artery or vein, or to block blood supply to a particular part of the body or an organ. 

Need to know

  • What happens icon plus

    The procedure may be performed under general anaesthetic (so you'll be asleep) or local anaesthetic and sedation. Your consultant radiologist will insert a catheter (a fine plastic tube) into your groin and up into your artery. They'll then inject a dye through the catheter to highlight your blood vessels and take X-ray images. You may get a warm feeling and a metallic taste in your mouth from the dye. Your consultant will look at the X-ray to see which blood vessels need to be blocked. They will then inject a synthetic material (sometimes called coils) or embolic agent to stop the blood flow through the blood vessel. The procedure usually takes 30 minutes to two hours.
  • How to prepare icon plus

    Like all procedures, there may be some risks and side effects involved. Your consultant will explain these to you. They will also explain the procedure and answer any questions you may have. Make sure you tell them if you take any medicines, particularly blood thinning drugs and if you have any allergies. You may need to have a blood test to check that your blood clots normally. You should not eat for six hours before having a vascular embolisation. You may drink water for up to two hours before the procedure. You can take all your regular medicines except any which thin your blood.
  • Afterwards icon plus

    You will return to your ward, where our dedicated nurses will take care of you. You will usually be cared for in hospital overnight following your procedure. Please ask a friend or family member to take you home, where you'll need to rest for the remainder of the day and the following day. Avoid any excessive activities and do not lift anything heavy for the next five days to a week. If your job involves heavy manual work, take up to a week off. If you don’t have a manual job, you should be able to return to work after two days. Keep your dressing on for four days.

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This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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