Definition of Arterial embolism
Arterial embolism is a sudden interruption of blood flow to an organ or body part due to a clot (embolus).
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
An embolus is a blood clot or a piece of plaque that acts like a clot. Emboli means more than one clot. If the clot travels from the site where it formed to another location in the body, it is called an embolism.
Symptoms may begin quickly or slowly depending on the size of the embolus and how much it blocks the blood flow.
Signs and tests
The health care provider may find decreased or no pulse, and decreased or no in the arm or leg. There may be signs of tissue death or gangrene.
Arterial embolism requires prompt treatment at a hospital. The goals of treatment are to control symptoms and to improve the interrupted blood flow to the affected area of the body. The cause of the clot, if found, should be treated to prevent further problems.
How well a patient does depends on the location of the clot and how much the clot has blocked blood flow. Arterial embolism can be serious if not treated promptly.
Issam Mikati, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Feinberg School of Medicine, Director, Northwestern Clinic Echocardiography Lab, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 6/1/2010