How can gastro-intestinal bleeding be detected?
The clinical presentation (hematemsis, hematochezia, melena) by itself can help to detect acute gastro-intestinal bleeding. Thorough and complete medical background checkup can also help to detect the risk factors and medical conditions that can predispose to gastro-intestinal bleeding, such as, history of chronic liver disease, peptic ulcer disease, inflammatory bowel disease, etc. In case of severe gastro-intestinal bleeding, the patient’s vital signs would be unstable requiring urgent interventions. Other means to detect gastro-intestinal bleeding include laboratory work such as hemoglobin level and complete blood analysis, liver function tests. Radiological studies play a pivotal rule in detecting the source of acute gastro-intestinal bleeding and mapping the arterial tree for the interventional radiologist.
What is an embolization procedure?
Embolization procedures are one of the major techniques in the armamentarium of interventional radiology. They are a common and essential procedures. Using minimally invasive approaches, an artery or a vein can be blocked using different kind of liquid or solid materials. Some of the applications of these procedures are to stop bleeding, treat congenital vascular malformations, stop tumor growth in the liver, treat an aneurysm, treat uterine fibroids, etc.
How is the embolization procedure performed?
After deciding to perform an embolization by the managing medical team, an interventional radiologist will approach the patient to explain the procedure, benefits and risks*. A written consent is obtained*. The patient will be shifted to an interventional radiology suite. Under sterile conditions and local anesthesia*, a femoral or radial vascular access is performed. Using this access, catheters and wires are advanced till reaching the source of the bleeding. Using embolization material, the source of the bleeding is blocked, and any other site of bleeding is stopped. The embolization material to be used will be decided by the interventional radiologist performing the case and he/she might as well discuss it with the patient.
*in certain conditions, the patient might be intubated and unconscious, the procedure explanation, the written consent will be explained to his/her next of ken. It will be performed under general anaesthesia or conscious sedation.