Bronchial artery embolization is a procedure that is used to treat people who are coughing up blood. Previously, the bleeding was stopped with surgery that would require the doctor to remove a lung. Nowadays, it can be treated with the help of embolization. In this, bleeding is stopped by blocking the abnormal blood vessels.

Coughing up blood is known as haemoptysis.

Causes of Haemoptysis

People cough up blood when they suffer from bronchitis, pneumonia, tuberculosis, HIV, influenza, lung cancer or pulmonary artery bleeding.

People would spit blood when they, smoke, use cocaine or marijuana, are forced to vomit, choke on an object or cough too hard.

90 percent of haemoptysis arise due to bleeding of the bronchial arteries whereas 5 percent of haemoptysis arise due to the bleeding of the pulmonary arteries. The bleeding is more due to bronchial arteries since there is high pressure in these arteries. Hence, minor bleeding from these arteries can lead to blood loss.

Haemoptysis can also occur in patients who have inflamed airways with cystic fibrosis or non-cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis. The inflammation in airways results in the expansion of bronchial arteries, which in turn causes bleeding.

Steps in Bronchial Artery Embolisation

Before Procedure

  1. The patient should not consume alcohol 24 hours before the surgery.
  2. A chest X-ray, CT scan and bronchoscopy may be conducted to find out the site of bleeding and swollen bronchial arteries.

During the Procedure

  1. The groin will be cleaned with an antiseptic.
  2. The area around the groin will be numbed with a local antiseptic.
  3. Then, a needle is inserted into the femoral artery.
  4. A thin plastic tube called catheter will be inserted in this artery.
  5. Then, x-Ray equipment is used to make sure that the catheter reaches the arteries that are causing the bleeding in the chest.
  6. A dye is injected into the catheter to check for the correct place of embolization.
  7. Then, the interventional radiologist will inject tiny particles through the catheter to block the abnormal arteries.
  8. Again, dye is injected to check whether the abnormal arteries are blocked properly or not.
  9. Then, catheter will be removed and pressure will be applied on the site for approximately 10 minutes to avoid bleeding.

After the Procedure

  1. The vital signs including blood pressure and pulse will be monitored.
  2. You should stay in bed at least for 6 hours.
  3. You may have to be in the hospital for 1 night.
  4. The patient should consume lots of fluids to allow the dye to get flushed out from body.
  5. The patient should not consume alcohol for 24 hours from the procedure.