What are the indications?
Severe gastrointestinal bleeding can be a consequence of arterial-venous malformation, ulcer, diverticular disease or tumor. Embolization is usually the first line of treatment of any of these causes.
Your attending doctor will organize CT Angiogram before the intervention in order to better delineate vascular anatomy and identify the site of bleeding (so-called “vascular blush”). The results of this test will be analyzed by the interventional radiologist who will then plan the appropriate treatment.
The procedure is similar to general angiography and embolization.
The radiologist will, with a help of X-rays, place the tiny tube (micro catheter) into the artery of interest and administer contrast to demonstrate the site of bleeding.
The preferred agents for occlusion of the bleeding artery are micro coils, which will permanently occlude selected artery.
Is there any additional risk?
The possibility that the embolization agent can dislodge into the arterial system and deprive healthy bowel of blood supply is minimal. It is avoided by the careful positioning of the micro catheter supraselectively next to the bleeding spot.
Sometimes, the anatomy of your intestinal artery and its branches may be too complex for the safe placement of tube. In that case the radiologist will advice you that the procedure is not technically feasible and your attending doctor will present you with the other (possibly surgical) treatment options.
Very seldom you may feel mild pain in the abdomen 24-48 hours after the procedure, which will necessitate administration of painkillers.
The other risks are similar to general angiography and embolization.