For vascular tumors of the head & neck, endovascular embolization can reduce the risk of surgical resection. For uncontrollable hemorrhage due to epistaxis, cancer, previous surgery or radiation, embolization can be used to control hemorrhage.
Certain tumors of the head & neck are known to be very vascular, and therefore more difficult to remove surgically. For these tumors — typically tumors of the neck called ‘carotid body tumors’ or tumors of the nasopharynx in young men called ‘juvenile nasal angiofibromas’, endovascular embolization can be a useful adjunct to surgery, reducing the amount of blood loss during resection. Typically, within 2 weeks prior to the scheduled surgery, a catheter is threaded into the arteries supplying the tumor, and embolic material — usually small plastic beads or particles — is injected to block the small branches feeding the tumor. This technique can also be used for meningiomas, benign tumors of the lining of the brain. In some cases, the particles are coated with chemotherapeutic agents to help treat malignant tumors.
In cases of epistaxis, severe trauma, or previous surgery or radiation therapy, uncontrollable hemorrhage from the head, face, or neck can occur. Because of the complex and functional anatomy of the head & neck, surgical control can be difficult. In these cases, endovascular embolization can be used to stop hemorrhage, or slow bleeding down enough to allow for the body to heal.