Bland Embolization Patient Education
Bland Embolization Patient Education
Once your oncologist, surgeon or primary physician determines that you are a candidate for bland embolization, Northwestern Medicine interventional oncology radiologists and nurses join your care team*.
Before the procedure
Before your procedure, your care team will review your history, CT scan, MRI or PET scan, along with any lab work you have had done. A physician and nurse meet with you and explain the procedure, benefits and risks, and answer any questions you have. They will assist you in scheduling this procedure.
Day of procedure
Do not eat solid foods for six hours prior to your scheduled procedure. You may have clear liquids (no milk or dairy products) up until three hours before your scheduled bland embolization. If you take any routine medications, talk with your physician. These may be taken with sips of water.
Please leave all valuables such as jewelry, credit cards and money at home. Family members may wish to bring a magazine or book to read while they wait.
After checking in with reception, you will fill out some medical history forms that also ask about any medications you are taking. You’ll wait in the reception area until you are called for the procedure.
A nurse will take you to the prep and recovery area. After you’ve changed into a surgical gown, the nurse will take your vital signs, and start an IV in your arm. Sometimes a catheter will be placed in your bladder to monitor your urine output. The nurse will also check and mark the pulses in your feet with a marker. This is done so that after the procedure, these same pulses can be checked to monitor any changes that may occur from using the artery in your groin during the treatment. A physician will then meet with you to discuss the procedure, get your consent and answer any questions you have.
Next, a nurse will take you to the interventional radiology procedure room, where a radiology technologist and the interventional radiologist will be waiting. This skilled care team will remain in the room with you for the length of the procedure.
During the procedure
The nurse will help you lie on an exam table. You will be connected to heart and blood pressure monitors, and medication will be given through your IV to help you relax. Your groin area will be shaved and washed with a special soap, and covered with sterile sheets. Numbing medicine will be injected into the area. You will feel some burning as the medicine is given. Once it takes effect, the area will be numb. A small needle is inserted in your groin area. Through this needle, a very small tube, called a catheter, is threaded through the femoral artery to your liver. Your physician uses X-ray views to help guide the catheter.
Once the site has been checked, X-rays of liver arteries, called an angiogram, are done and embolizing particles are injected into the catheter. This may cause discomfort. Tell your physician or nurse if you are having pain. Throughout the PVE procedure, medication is given through your IV to keep you comfortable. The procedure time typically takes one to two hours. Your blood pressure and pulse are checked closely during and after the procedure. After the bland embolization procedure is complete, the catheter in your groin is removed and the physician uses either a device to close the artery, or pressure to prevent bleeding. You will then be moved to recovery.
After the procedure
Once you arrive back in prep and recovery, a nurse will monitor your blood pressure and pulse. Your care team will also check your groin where the catheter was inserted for bleeding or bruising, and check the pulses in your feet. It is important to lie flat during this time, and keep your leg straight and motionless. This prevents bleeding, and allows the puncture site to close. You may be required to lie flat for up to six hours. During this time, tell your nurse if you are experiencing any pain or nausea. Medications can be given to treat these symptoms.
Typically, you will remain in recovery for two to six hours. Your vital signs will be checked one last time, and you will be asked to walk a short distance with a nurse. If you feel well enough to go home, a nurse will remove your IV, and you will change and be discharged for home. Before you leave, discharge instructions will be given to you, along with phone numbers of who to contact if you have questions and when to follow up with your physician.
Discharge and follow-up care
Your complete recovery usually takes seven to 10 days. Following discharge:
- Limit your activities and get plenty of rest
- Do not drive for 24 hours
- Begin to resume your normal activities the day after you leave the hospital
- No physical exertion or heavy lifting (greater than 10 lbs.) for the next three days
- You may bath or shower at any time
- Slowly increase your physical activity
- Depending on your job and its demands, you may return to work
- Check your temperature twice a day for five days
- If you were prescribed antibiotics or pain medication, be sure to take it as directed. It is normal to have some pain.
Your surgeon will closely monitor your recovery. He or she will give you instructions about follow-up appointments, blood testing and scans that will be needed.
As it heals, your puncture site should remain soft and dry. If you notice a small amount of bleeding from the puncture site, please do the following:
- Immediately lie flat.
- Apply firm pressure for 15 minutes using a clean cloth or tissue. If possible, have another person apply pressure.
- After 15 minutes, remove pressure. The wound should be dry and flat without bleeding. Cover the wound with a bandage. Notify your physician of this incident right away.
When to call your physician
Contact your physician if you have:
- Fever over 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit for more than one day
- Pain or cramping in the abdomen not relieved by pain medication
- Severe persistent nausea or vomiting
- Redness or red streaks around the skin wound
- Bleeding, pain or drainage at the groin site
- Calf tenderness or pain
- Numbness or tingling in the foot, thigh or leg
- Swelling of the ankle and/or foot
- Increased bruising extending to the thigh, over the buttock and/or groin
- Color change and/or coolness of the leg or foot
Seek immediate emergency care
While extremely rare, the puncture in your artery could reopen. Immediately apply hard pressure above the puncture would and call 911 if you experience any of the following:
- Continuous profuse blood streaming from the wound
- A jet of blood pumping from the puncture wound
- Quickly increasing swelling of the area around the wound, which may be pulsating