Also Known As:

What is an Embolism?

An Embolus is an unattached particle which has been carried through the bloodstream away from its origin.

An Embolism is the condition that occurs when an embolus becomes lodged in a blood vessel, causing the blood flow to an organ to be restricted or completely stopped. This blockage causes cells to be starved of oxygen (Ischemia) and can result in very serious, life threatening issues.

The three main categories of Embolism are:
•   Arterial Embolism: When an embolus blocks blood flow in an artery.
•   Venous Embolism: When an embolus blocks blood flow in a vein.
•   Paradoxical Embolism: This is an embolus which is carried from the venous side of circulation to the arterial side, or vice versa.


The cause of an embolism varies according to the organ involved and the particular type of embolus.

Factors that can increase the risk of developing some form of Embolism include:
•   A personal or family history of deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism
•   Inheriting a blood-clotting disorder
•   Prolonged bed rest, such as during a long hospital stay, or paralysis
•   Injury or surgery
•   Pregnancy
•   Taking estrogen or testosterone
•   Being overweight or obese
•   Smoking
•   Cancer and cancer treatments
•   Heart failure
•   Sitting for long periods of time, such as when driving or flying


The symptoms of an Embolism vary depending on the organ affected; the size and type of embolus; and the time lapsed.

Diagnosis & Treatment

An Embolism normally requires emergency medical attention.

An Embolism is diagnosed by a Doctor using a physical examination, blood tests and scans. The Doctor may order the following tests:
•   Ultrasound Scan
•   MRI Scan
•   X-Ray
•   CT Scan
•   D-Dimer test
•   Angiogram
•   Electrocardiogram (ECG)

The exact treatment for an Embolism varies depending on the organ affected and the size of the embolus. The aim will be to control symptoms and improve the blood flow to the affected area of the body. Treatment may include:
•   Anticoagulant Medications
•   Antiplatelet Medications
•   Thrombolytic Medications
•   Painkillers
•   Vasodilators
•   Embolectomy
•   Angioplasty
•   Inferior Vena Cava Filter

Additional Information

Also see: Embolus

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Published Date:

18th March 2019


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