Tumour Embolisation

Tumours have a variable blood supply which can make surgery more difficult because of excessive bleeding. It is possible in many cases to reduce the amount of bleeding during the operation by occluding the blood vessels supplying the tumour. This is achieved by passing a small tube (catheter) into the blood vessels supplying the tumour and injecting small particles that visually resemble grains of sand. This may be combined with the use of metallic coils or other materials to occlude larger arteries.

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Before treatment After treatment

For head and neck tumours complications include those described for diagnostic cerebral angiography. There may be an additional risk of complications occurring as a result of the particles going into normal arteries supply the brain and nerves resulting in a stroke. Detailed pictures are taken before any particles are injected to minimise this risk. In some cases the neuroradiologist may further test the safety of injecting a particular vessel by injecting a drug such as lignocaine and amo-barbital before injecting the particles. Your doctor will explain this further if this is required.

The procedure usually takes several hours. It may be performed under sedation although in some cases a general anaesthetic is more appropriate.