Head, neck, and brain tumors are often very complex and may require a combination of special approaches in resolving them. Embolization is an integral part of managing these tumors.
Embolization refers to a procedure that can block blood flow to an area of the body. The brain or spinal cord tumors can be challenging to remove or may not be accessible for removal.
Reducing or cutting the blood supply to such tumors before the surgery can help to improve the effectiveness and lessen the complications. Thus, it has become adjuvant to the surgical treatment of these tumors.
The endovascular approach is the most common type of widely used approach. It is an invasive surgical procedure used to block blood vessels supplying the tumor thereby making the tumor removal safer and with less blood loss.
Embolization In Treatment Of Tumors
The procedure involves making a tiny incision in your groin area, and a catheter is inserted via a blood vessel (femoral artery). The catheter is guided through the body using X-rays. When the catheter reaches the site that needs to be treated, the material is injected to seal your blood vessel (metal coils, PVA particles, gelfoam, liquid embolics). The material used will be decided by your interventionist.
Embolization of head, neck, and brain tumors may be recommended to treat the cancer growth in the following cases:
- Carotid body tumors
- juvenile nasopharyngeal angiofibroma (JNA)
- Larynx Meningiomas (brain and spine)
- Cerebral Hemangiopericytomas
- Paragangliomas: in neck, skull base or ear
Advantages of Embolization
The advantage of embolization includes:
- To reduce tumor recurrence
- To control surgically inaccessible arterial sites
- To allow better visualization of the surgical field and decreased surgical complications
- To relieve uncontrollable pain
- To reduce the blood loss during the surgery
- To reduce the risk of damage to nearby tissues
- Shorten the operative time and less invasive
- To increase the chances of complete surgical resection
Endovascular embolization is performed in a hospital by an interventional neuroradiologist. It is often performed as an elective preoperative procedure. The following things should be kept in mind:
- Inform your surgeon about all medications that you take, including prescription, non-prescription, vitamins, and herbal supplements
- If you smoke or take alcohol regularly
- If you are having fever.
- If you are on any blood thinning agents.
Depending upon your recovery, you will be asked to stay in the hospital for 1 or 2 days. You might be asked to stay longer if there were any complications during the procedure. Usually, your rate of recovery will determine your discharge. Your comorbidities may also affect your recovery speed. The area where the incision was made may remain sore for several days.
Your physician will ask you to follow up depending on the disease and closely monitor you.