What Is Embolization of a Tumor?

Reviewed on 2/19/2021
A tumor requires a continuous blood supply to grow and survive.
A tumor requires a continuous blood supply to grow and survive.

A tumor requires a continuous blood supply to grow and survive. Embolization is a minimally invasive procedure that aims to block the blood supply to a tumor to reduce its size or cause complete cell death. This technique utilizes liquid, particles, or microspheres to obstruct blood vessels.

Embolization is mainly used to treat:

The three different types of embolization are:

  • Arterial embolization: The physician injects small beads into the blood vessel supplying the tumor to stop the blood flow.
  • Chemoembolization: In this technique, tiny beads infused with chemotherapy are sent through a blood vessel directly into a tumor.
  • Radioembolization: Radiation therapy uses tiny beads with radioactive isotopes on them to directly treat tumors.

The advantages of embolization include:

  • Shrinks tumor for surgical removal.
  • Reducing blood loss during the surgery to remove the tumor.
  • Slowing tumor growth when surgery and chemotherapy are not possible.
  • Relieving symptoms of heavy bleeding in women with uterine fibroids.

What are the different conditions treated with tumor embolization?

Embolization can treat both cancerous and benign tumors, including:


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How is embolization of a tumor done?

The surgical removal of the tumor is made easier by the embolization procedure. During the embolization procedure:

  • The physician makes a small incision in the groin area to access a blood vessel and carefully inserts a catheter into the vessel.
  • Next, the physician injects dye into the vessel through the catheter to visualize the vessels during imaging.
  • Using imaging, such as ultrasound or fluoroscopy, the physician directs the catheter to the desired site.
  • After reaching the site, the physician inserts medication or agents, such as tiny plastic particles, foam, or little metal coils to seal the blood vessels that supply the tumor.

What are the complications of tumor embolization?

Some of the possible complications after the procedure include:

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The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Tumor Embolization. https://utswmed.org/conditions-treatments/tumor-embolization/#:~:text=Tumor%20embolization%20is%20a%20minimally,therapy%20directly%20to%20the%20tumor.

The University of Michigan. Tumor Embolization. https://www.uofmhealth.org/conditions-treatments/neurointerventional-radiology/tumor-embolization

National Cancer Institute. Embolization. National Institutes of Health. https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms/def/embolization

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