Embolization: Interventional Radiology (IR) Techniques Explained

“Embolization” is a mainstay therapy of interventional radiologists. Simply put, embolization occurs when blood supply to a target area stops flowing, resulting in a lack of oxygen. Depending on the procedure, these plugs could be a soft metal “coil,” made of collagen, or an injection of millions of tiny particles.

At ECCO, we use embolization to treat liver cancer, uterine fibroids, and enlarged prostates. The method is the same – injection of millions of tiny particles into the blood supply of the liver tumors, fibroids, or enlarged portion of the prostate. These particles are permanent implants traveling in the blood supply, until they lodge into tiny vessels within the target tissue. This ends up starving the target tissue of oxygen, causing it to shrink and in some cases — disappear altogether. Benefits depend on the condition treated.

A Liver Cancer Procedure That Precisely Targets Tumors

A minimally invasive procedure called “Y90 Radioembolization” combines embolization and radiation therapy to treat liver cancer. It targets tumors with a high dose of radiation without affecting other, healthy parts of the body. Tiny glass, or resin, beads filled with the radioactive isotope yttrium Y-90 stop blood flow to the cancerous area. ECCO interventional radiologists were among the first to offer this treatment, performing over 5000 Y90 procedures to date.

Treating Fibroid Tumors with Embolization Relieves Women’s Pain

Women diagnosed with fibroid tumors can experience heavy menstrual bleeding, pain, and pressure on the bladder or bowel. A minimally invasive procedure called Uterine Fibroid Embolization or (UFE) can alleviate these symptoms. Using real-time x-ray imaging called fluoroscopy, the doctors guide the delivery of embolic particles to the fibroids in the uterus. These agents block the arteries that provide blood to the fibroids and cause them to shrink. Studies show nearly 90 percent of women who undergo UFE experience significant or complete resolution of their fibroid-related symptoms.

A Painless Procedure for Men with Benign Prostate Hyperplasia (BPH)

Men with an enlarged prostate ,known as BPH, can benefit from a leading-edge procedure called Prostate Artery Embolization (PAE). The interventional radiologist places a tiny catheter through the groin into the arteries that feed the prostate gland. Next, a solution is injected containing thousands of microscopic plastic beads, which block the blood supply to the gland. In most cases, the prostate gland shrinks and patients experience symptomatic improvement equivalent to other surgical options.

The embolization method can treat numerous other conditions as well. The physicians at ECCO can treat these conditions at the office, with no need to visit the hospital.

If you think you may benefit from one of these treatments, don’t hesitate to call!

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