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Arterial Thrombosis and Embolization

Adequate blood flow and oxygenation is essential for tissue survival, healing, and growth. Lack of blood flow can cause tissue loss, pain, and even death. Two common causes of lack of blood flow are arterial thrombosis and embolization.

Definition of Arterial Thrombosis and Embolization

Arterial thrombosis occurs when a clot forms within an artery and completely blocks blood flow in that area. An embolization occurs when a piece of plaque, clot, or other tissue travels from a distant site and lodges in another vessel. This can be arterial, such as embolization of a clot from the heart to the legs or venous, such as a clot from a deep vein thrombosis traveling to the lungs and becoming a pulmonary embolism.

Anatomy of Arterial Thrombosis/Embolization

The arteries carry oxygenated blood from the heart to the body’s various organs. Many episodes of embolization happen when patients have uncontrolled atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation causes an irregular heartbeat with uncoordinated ventricular muscle contraction. This allows the clot to form in the heart itself, which can embolize to other parts of the body, especially the legs.

Causes of Arterial Thrombosis and Embolization

Causes of arterial thrombosis include severe atherosclerosis and hypercoagulable states. Embolization can be caused by the clot forming in the heart from atrial fibrillation. It can also occur with tumors extending into the vascular system. A fat embolism can occur after a bad fracture from bone marrow.

Symptoms of Arterial Thrombosis or Embolization are typically the symptoms of acute limb ischemia:

  • Pain
  • Pallor (whitish color)
  • Pulselessness
  • Poikilothermia (decreased temperature of the area)
  • Paralysis

Diagnosis of Arterial Thrombosis/Embolization

The history of the patient and the initial physical exam will certainly help in the diagnosis. Patients typically undergo an ultrasound or computed tomography angiogram (CTA), which confirms the diagnosis.

Prevention of an Arterial Thrombosis or Embolism

Patients with a hypercoagulable state or those with atrial fibrillation should stay on their medications and take them correctly. Adequately maintaining an anticoagulated state is key to preventing an embolic event. Patients should also take statins, other cholesterol-lowering medications, and aspirin or other antiplatelet medications as prescribed to prevent thrombosis.

Risk Factors for Arterial Thrombosis and Embolization

Risk factors include a history of atrial fibrillation, especially those with poor anticoagulation. Patients with other hypercoagulable states or genetic factors may also be at risk. Patients with a previous history of embolism or thrombosis are likely also at an increased risk if the initial factors have not been treated.


Treatment options include restoring blood flow with open surgery or endovascular measures. Endovascular options include clot-busting medication, suction thrombectomy, and stent placement. Open surgery can be in the form of a bypass, endarterectomy, or open thrombectomy. Treatment plans depend on the cause of symptoms and the patient’s overall health.

To learn more about treatment procedures for this condition please visit the following: Procedures We Do

Patients in need of Arterial Thrombosis and/or Embolization treatment on Florida’s West Coast should locate a well-rounded vascular surgeon such as Dr. Jenna Kazil. Dr. J. Kazil is an expert vascular surgeon who performs open and endovascular repair of arterial thrombosis and/or embolization treatment at various hospitals located in Manatee, Hillsborough, and Osceola counties. Dr. Kazil understands the important circumstances that drive the treatment with the accuracy and compassion that everyone expects from an acquainted vascular surgeon. Jenna Kazil, MD, FACS, RPVI is a proficient surgical specialist working as a general and vascular surgeon seeing patients from South Sarasota to East Desoto and Hardee to North Hillsborough to West Manatee and Pinellas counties. Patients requiring treatment of arterial thrombosis and/or embolization treatment should contact Dr. Kazil at the Florida Surgical Clinic located in Bradenton, FL today to schedule an appointment with an experienced provider.

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