What is Embolism?

An embolism is obstruction of blood vessels of different organs and body parts by an embolus. An embolus can be a blood clot, clumps of bacteria, air bubble, cholesterol mass and clumps of foreign material.embolism

It is unattached mass and moves through the bloodstream and gets stuck in blood vessels and restricts the blood flow.

1. Pulmonary embolism – blockage of pulmonary arteries by a blood clot is a pulmonary embolism. It is the most common type of embolism. If it’s not treated on time then it may lead to death. The symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pain, anxiety, and cyanosis of skin, fainting, swelling of legs and other. The symptoms appear suddenly so patient requires immediate medical assistance.

2. Air embolism – when air bubbles enter the circulatory system due to any trauma or injury causes an air embolism. The most common causes of air embolism are scuba diving, excessive alcohol, dehydration, obesity and wrong medical procedure but it is detected very soon by medical equipment. The symptoms may include heart attack, convulsions, loss of consciousness, cyanosis, weakness, blurred vision, reduced blood pressure.

3. Fat embolism – When pieces of fat tissue or bone marrow travels in bloodstream due to any mechanical injury it is called fat embolism.

4. Amniotic fluid embolism – it occurs in the rare situation and happens due to the cesarean operation, abnormal placental development, uterine rupture. It happens when amniotic fluid enters the mother’s circulatory system and mother’s body respond it like allergic-like reaction.


The diagnosis is made on the basis of patient’s history, diagnostic tests, and physical examination. Blood test, Chest X-ray, angiography, computed tomography, ventilation-perfusion scan, ultrasound, and echocardiography are done to confirm the diagnosis.


The goal of the treatment is to destroy the embolus and to stop the formation of the new embolus. The treatment also focuses on managing the symptoms. Anticoagulant medications like heparin, thrombolytics like activase, eminase are given for pulmonary embolism.

For fat embolism, methylprednisolone can be given. The supportive care is important in it like maintenance of proper ventilation and oxygenation, nutrition and other.

Hyperbaric chambers are used for air embolism. The patient is placed in the hyperbaric chamber for some hours with 100% oxygen. In air embolism doctor prevent the future embolisms and further damage. Supportive care is given in the case of amniotic fluid embolism.


  • Eat a healthy diet low in cholesterol. Add fruits and green vegetables to your diet.
  • Avoid alcohol and quit smoking.
  • Limit the depth and duration of dives.
  • Do regular exercises.
  • Maintain a healthy weight and don’t be stressed.

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