What Is Embolization?
Embolization is a procedure that is used to strategically block blood flow to an area of the body. This is an incredibly effective method for helping tumor patients, as embolization can help by cutting off the tumor’s blood supply. For head and neck tumors, embolization may be done on its own or as a primary measure before surgery. Embolization prior to surgery can help reduce the risks of excessive bleeding during surgery. Tumors that have developed near the brain and spine can be very challenging to remove, embolization is one method that helps reduce potential risks.
The team at the University of Illinois Neurosurgery department are industry-leading specialists with decades of combined experience. Our team specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of complex and unique neurological conditions. We are proud to help our patients receive care.
What Types of Tumors Can Embolization Treat?
Embolization can be an effective procedure to treat tumors in parts of the body that aren’t easily accessible, such as the head, neck, and brain. By limiting blood flow, it causes the tumor to shrink, making it easier to remove and greatly reducing the risks of blood loss and nerve damage during surgery. Head and neck tumor embolization may be used to treat benign and cancerous growths that have developed in the:
Brain tumor embolization helps treat:
- Acoustic neuroma
- Intraventricular tumors
- Skull base tumors
- Spinal Tumors
- Orbital Tumors
- Glomus Tumors
- Nasopharyngeal Tumors
How Is Embolization Performed?
Your specialist will run a series of diagnostic tests to find the exact location of the vessels supplying blood to the tumor. A cerebral or spinal angiogram uses a special dye that appears on an X-ray. This image can be used to create a map of the blood vessels in your body. With this information, the doctor can determine if the blood supply to the tumor is large enough to make embolization an effective treatment.
Embolization is performed with the use of a special catheter. A catheter is a thin tube that can be threaded through blood vessels in a minimally invasive way. This gives the doctor access to the area without requiring a large incision or the risks associated with traditional surgery.
For this procedure, all that is required is a small incision in the groin or wrist area. The catheter will be threaded through the body to the tumor in the head, neck, brain, or spine. The blocking agent is then added into the blood vessels to stop the flow of blood. This blocking agent might be a coil, a plug, or glue.
After Catheter Embolization
Most people can return home within 1 or 2 days after the procedure, although the incision may be sore for several days. Your doctor will monitor your embolization routinely after the procedure, to ensure that the blood supply to the tumor has been stopped. This follow-up may continue for several months after the procedure, using tools like imaging scans to confirm whether the tumor has shrunk and pressure is being relieved.
Head & Neck Embolization at the University of Illinois Neurosurgery Department
If you have been diagnosed with a cancerous growth or tumor, head & neck embolization may reduce potential health risks. Our team of industry-leading neurosurgeons specializes in the treatment and diagnosis of rare and complex neurological conditions and disorders.
We treat patients who have been unable to receive the care they truly need. If you are suffering from a complex neurological condition, refer to our contact page to correspond with a member of our team for a consultation!