Artery Embolization for Lower GI Bleeds

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Artery Embolization for Lower GI Bleeds

What is a GI Bleed?

Gastrointestinal (GI) bleeds are a common condition; however, they can be serious as well as life-threatening. As a result, GI bleeds result in approximately 140,000 hospital admissions yearly and roughly 5,000 deaths annually in the U.S. Such an event also costs an average of $6,000 for each admission1. Likewise, GI bleeds pose a serious medical and financial burden to those that suffer from them. Lower GI bleeds also disproportionately affect the elderly population, and they are usually caused by GI conditions such as hemorrhoids, diverticulosis, colon polyps, or tumors. If you have a GI bleed, you may experience vomit that is red or coffee ground-like or stool that is tarry, black, or bloody.

How are GI Bleeds treated?

Traditionally, two procedures have been the mainstay of diagnosis and treatment of GI bleeds: endoscopies and colonoscopies. However, these procedures are not always successful. For example, roughly 10 to 15 percent of endoscopic-treated upper GI bleeds will have persistent bleeding after treatment. Traditionally, failed cases have been managed surgically. Recently, though, medical advancements have led to breakthroughs in the availability of embolic agents as well as catheter size and design. This has led to the development of artery embolization, a relatively new method used to treat lower GI bleeds.

Artery embolization is now a preferred method for treating lower GI bleeds, particularly when surgery or vasopressin therapy is unrealistic.

What is artery embolization?

Artery embolization is now a preferred method for treating lower GI bleeds, particularly when surgery or vasopressin therapy is unrealistic. To analyze the benefits of this procedure, one study evaluated patients receiving super-selective arterial embolization in 31 patients. In total, 26 patients qualified to undergo embolization, of which 100 percent achieved sufficient control of their GI bleeds. Only one patient had recurrent GI bleeding after the operation. Bowel infarction, a potential risk of the procedure, occurred in none of the patients that underwent embolization. This study, therefore, demonstrated the profound safety and effectiveness of artery embolization for treating a GI bleed.

What happens during artery embolization?

During artery embolization, your doctor will numb your skin where the catheter will be inserted. They will then place the catheter into a blood vessel in your arm or upper thigh. With the help of moving X-ray imaging, your provider will move the tube within the blood vessel to the area of interest. Once at the bleeding site, your doctor will release special materials via the catheter to stop the bleeding. The bleeding can be blocked using gelfoam, plastic particles, metal coils, plugs, or medical glue.

What are the risks of artery embolization?

There are a few risks associated with undergoing artery embolization. These include:

  • Blood vessel injury
  • Nearby organ or tissue injury (this occurs if the material that blocks the blood vessel infiltrates other areas)
  • Bleeding or bruising at the puncture site
  • Kidney injury
  • Allergic reaction to the contrast dye used in the procedure
  • Infection

Though there are some potential risks of artery embolization, the procedure is relatively safe. Some studies have actually demonstrated that artery embolization may be safer than surgery.

Now that you have a better awareness of Lower GI Bleeds, turn that awareness into action. If you are experiencing symptoms of a Lower GI Bleed or Hemorrhoids, see your local provider. And if you have been diagnosed with a Lower GI Bleed or Hemorrhoids, ask your physician about treatment with MTV IR.

References (n.d.). Embolization options for gastrointestinal hemorrhage. Endovascular Today. Retrieved May 4, 2022, from
Gastrointestinal bleed embolization | portland & oregon city. (n.d.). Retrieved May 4, 2022, from
Širvinskas, A., Smolskas, E., Mikelis, K., Brimienė, V., & Brimas, G. (2017). Transcatheter arterial embolization for upper gastrointestinal tract bleeding. Videosurgery and Other Miniinvasive Techniques, 12(4), 385–393.
Lv, L.-S., & Gu, J.-T. (2019). Super-selective arterial embolization in the control of acute lower gastrointestinal hemorrhage. World Journal of Clinical Cases, 7(22), 3728–3733.

If you would like to learn more, request a consultation and speak with one of our physicians.

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