What Are MIIPs? / Internal Bleeding

My loved one was in an accident and is bleeding inside. 

It can be very scary when a loved one is in an accident. Different accidents can cause different injuries. Accidents can cause broken bones, organ damage, and damage to blood vessels. Damage to blood vessels can cause bleeding. Bleeding can happen outside the body or inside the body. Bleeding inside the body is called “internal bleeding.” This is an emergency.

Arteries are the blood vessels that carry blood from the heart to the body. When an artery is damaged, it can bleed quickly and can become life-threatening.

Veins can also get hurt in an accident. Veins carry blood from the body back to the heart. Bleeding from veins is slower and stops more easily, so it is usually less dangerous. 

What are the treatments for someone who is bleeding inside? 

The doctors will use one of these treatments to stop the bleeding as quickly as possible:

For bleeding at or near the skin:

  • Surgery

  • Apply pressure on the wound

For bleeding deep inside the body:

  • Surgery
  • Minimally Invasive, Image-guided Procedure (MIIP) called an embolization

Bleeding from a vein often stops on its own or by putting pressure on the wound. It is less common for accident victims to need surgery or embolization for bleeding veins. 

What is an embolization? 

Embolization is a life-saving MIIP to stop the bleeding from the inside. Embolization works by plugging up the bleeding blood vessel with special materials.

Embolizations are performed through a pinhole by specialized doctors called Interventional Radiologists (IR). Your loved one’s doctors will decide whether surgery or an embolization is the better option. 

    How do IR doctors perform embolizations? 
    1. First, the IR doctor will numb the skin so your loved one will not feel pain. Sometimes they will also get medicine to relax them and make them comfortable.

    2. The IR will insert a small, thin tube into an artery in the groin or arm.

    3. The IR will watch with low-dose x-rays while moving the tube inside the body to the area that is bleeding. The IR can see exactly which artery is bleeding by injecting a contrast dye into the artery. The bleeding artery will look like dye is spilling out of it.

    4. The IR will then stop the bleeding artery by injecting special material though the tube, like stopping up a leaking pipe.

    • Special materials include gelatin slurry, tiny plastic particles, thin curly wires, and medical grade super glue.
    • The IR will choose the special material that is right for your loved one. 

    What are the possible side effects and risks of an embolization? 

    Most patients do not have any side effects after an embolization. If the embolization stops the bleeding, then their blood pressure and heart rate will return to normal. Embolization can be life-saving.

    It is uncommon, but some patients may feel pain or experience a mild fever after embolization. The combination of fever and pain after an embolization is called post-embolization syndrome. Post-embolization syndrome usually only lasts for a few days and can be treated with medicines.

    It is also uncommon, but the embolization can decrease the amount of blood that goes to a nearby, healthy organ. If it does, it can damage the organ and interfere with its function temporarily or permanently.

    Normally, the IR doctor discusses potential complications with the patient before a procedure. Embolizations for bleeding after an accident are almost always emergencies. If an embolization is needed to save your life in an emergency, your doctor may need to discuss the procedure with your next of kin or perform the procedure without first discussing its risks and benefits. 

    For more information on embolizations for traumatic injuries: 

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