Embolism: Symptoms and Treatment

Embolism is a pathological condition, as a result of the progression of which the lumen of the blood vessel overlaps. Because of this, the blood flow partially or completely overlaps. Substances that cover the vascular lumen are called emboli. They enter the arteries of the large or small circle of the circulatory system from other vascular sites. In size, they are determined by the diameter of specific vessels.

At its core, emboli are different:

  • thrombi (thromboembolism or paradoxical embolism)
  • fat cells (fat embolism)
  • amniotic fluid during pregnancy;
  • air (air and gas embolism)
  • germs and harmful bacteria;
  • Foreign bodies, etc.

Types of embolism

There are several variants of this pathology. Consider the types of ailment by location of emboli after the end of their migration:

  1. embolism of the pulmonary artery (the most common type)
  2. carotid arteries, as well as their branches
  3. vessels of the lower and upper limbs;
  4. kidney arteries;
  5. Mesenteric arteries;
  6. damage to the vessels of several organs and parts of the body

If we talk about other classifications, for example, species by the nature of emboli, then it is appropriate to consider several common types of the disease. Fat embolism affects the capillaries of the brain, as well as the lungs. They are clogged with fat particles. When air bubbles or other gas enter the blood, the vessels become blocked, which leads to air embolism and gas embolism. The air bubble moves along the large, and then along the small vessels, and can completely block the flow of blood, which leads to sudden death.

Pregnant women have embolism with amniotic fluid. This is a serious pathology that can lead to death. This complication arises as a result of hitting the amniotic fluid in the blood. Embolism of the amniotic fluid can happen during the operation of cesarean section or uterine rupture, abnormal development of the membranes or placental lesions.

Causes of development of pathology

A certain type of embolism has specific causes of appearance. Fat embolism can be formed under these conditions:

  • getting injuries, fractures of upper or lower limbs;
  • excess intravenous administration of preparations containing fatty elements
  • severe pancreatonecrosis

Gas and air embolism occurs for reasons such as:

  1. caisson disease
  2. getting injuries of large veins
  3. anomalies in the functioning of the lungs
  4. damage during labor or abortion

Vascular thromboembolism may begin to progress due to such disorders and diseases:

  • myocardial infarction
  • hypercoagulable blood
  • atrial fibrillation
  • violations during operations;
  • endocarditis;
  • rheumatism
  • elevated cholesterol;
  • diabetes;
  • hypertension
  • limb amputation
  • lung diseases;
  • heart rhythm disturbances.

Experts believe that the most common cause of embolism is getting a skeletal injury, that is, the formation of embolus occurs in fractures or amputations of large tubular bones. Other causes include damage to soft tissues, blood vessels, severe burns, biopsy and the introduction of fat emulsions.


The disease manifests itself as a general and specific symptom, depending on the focus of the lesion. Pulmonary embolism is manifested by a sharp pain syndrome in the chest and tachycardia, a fall in blood pressure and increased sweating, shortness of breath, general weakness, impaired lung function.

If there is a blockage in the emboli of the carotid artery, then there are symptoms: headache, dizziness and discord.

When a lesion of the renal artery occurs, there is a strong pain of the affected kidney, there is a bloody urination in a small amount. With the defeat of the arteries and veins of the limbs, there is a pain syndrome in the locus of embolus localization. The skin becomes pale, the limb grows numb, movement becomes difficult, gangrene symptoms appear.

In the case of fat embolism, the symptoms of a disorder of the central nervous system and cardiovascular system become pronounced. There are petechial rashes, blood outpourings on the shell of the mouth and eyes. The level of hemoglobin in the blood drops in just two days.

Embolism with amniotic fluid develops during pregnancy. As the fluid flows into the mother’s blood, chills and excitement, coughing, panic fear, vomiting and lowering blood pressure increase. The pulse is weak and the breathing becomes quicker, the skin acquires a blue tint, there is pain in the sternum, legs, head, convulsions appear.

Diagnosis and treatment methods

If there is a suspicion of pulmonary embolism, air or gas embolism, concern specific symptoms, it is necessary to go to a consultation with a doctor at a medical facility. He will listen to complaints, examine the patient and prescribe a set of diagnostic procedures: magnetic resonance and computer tomography of the diseased part of the body, radiography and pulse oximetry. Also, the patient is listened to with a stethoscope, an electrocardiogram and ultrasound is performed, capnography, the pressure of arteries and veins is measured. It is still necessary to take blood tests.

For the diagnosis of pulmonary embolism, air or fatty, perfusion scanning and angiography, echocardiography can be performed. It is very important not only to establish the accuracy of the diagnosis, but also to find out the nature of the embolus, the cause of the appearance, in order to avoid relapse.

Upon completion of the examination, the doctor, based on the symptoms and severity of the disease, prescribes a course of treatment, developing it individually for each patient. When fat embolism should be taken drugs that stimulate the dissolution of fat emboli, as well as glucocorticoids, cardiac glycosides and anticoagulants.

Air embolism is treated with regard to which area was damaged. If this is a limb, it must be fixed on a hill. When air enters the vein, it should be aspirated with a syringe. Treatment of air embolism is carried out in a pressure chamber. Also use oxygen installation, infusion therapy. If the condition worsens, the patient must be transferred to the intensive care unit.

In the case of gas embolism, the patient needs to administer special drugs to restore vital signs of organs and lung function. In more severe cases, surgical intervention is required.

If a patient has pulmonary embolism, he needs to be hospitalized urgently, connected to an artificial lung ventilation unit and carry out resuscitation measures. Oxygen therapy and the administration of drugs that break emboli are also necessary for pulmonary embolism. But in most cases, embolism of the pulmonary artery requires surgery.

In the case of embolism by amniotic fluid, it is necessary to take hormones that restore the body’s functions. In severe cases intensive therapy with transfusion of blood components and mechanical ventilation of the lungs is needed. Since embolism with amniotic fluid is a serious pathology during pregnancy, urgent therapy should be performed to eliminate this complication, save the life of the mother and child.