(redirected from embolisms)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical.


1. the occlusion of a blood vessel by an embolus
2. Botany the blocking of a xylem vessel by an air bubble
3. RC Church a prayer inserted in the canon of the Mass between the Lord's Prayer and the breaking of the bread
4. another name (not in technical use) for embolus



disruption of the blood supply to an organ or tissue owing to blockage of a blood vessel by any type of particle transported by the blood or lymph stream but not normally circulating therein.

Circulatory disorders are aggravated by reflex vasospasms and secondary thrombosis. In the case of obstruction of small vessels, blood circulation can be quickly restored by collateral circulation, so that the embolism may be described as incomplete. Thromboembolism, which is caused by a thrombus or part of a thrombus that has broken free, is the type that is most important in practical terms. Emboli from peripheral veins usually lodge in the basin of the pulmonary artery. If there are defects in the septa of the heart, the emboli may reach the arterial system, bypassing the pulmonary circulation; this is called a paradoxical embolism. Embolism in the systemic circulation arteries is usually caused by the breaking away of thrombotic material from the left ventricular valves or walls, as in endocarditis, in heart diseases, and in aneurysm of the left ventricle.

Other possible types are tissue and fat embolisms (especially after extensive and severe injuries or fractures of the long tubular bones), air or gas embolisms (as in the case of open heart surgery, injuries to the large veins of the neck and chest, and decompression sickness), bacillary embolisms (obstruction by aggregations of microbes), and embolisms caused by foreign bodies—mainly by small fragments in gunshot wounds—which are sometimes moved by the force of gravity against the direction of the blood stream (retrograde, or venous, embolism).

Treatment includes the use of anticoagulants, thrombolytic and spasmolytic agents, antibiotics, therapeutic recompression (for decompression sickness), and surgical removal of the embolus (embolectomy).


Chazov, E. I. Trombozy i embolii v klinike vnutrennikh boleznei. Moscow-Warsaw, 1966.
Tregubenko, A. I. Trombozy i embolii v khirurgii. Kiev, 1972.
Perlick, E. Antikoagulanten. Leipzig, 1964.



The blocking of a blood vessel by an embolus.
References in periodicals archive ?
Our goal is to develop a genetic 'handprint' for blood clots in the form of a blood test that can warn us which patients may develop different kind of blood clots, such as deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolisms, so we can offer the best preventive treatments to keep these events from occurring," said Jeffrey Berger, MD, a leading researcher at VTEC.
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)/ pulmonary embolism (PE)--blood clot forming in a vein.
One of them is that an embolism can form in the machine and travel into the brain, causing stroke.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and single photon emission computer tomography (SPECT) have been attempted to detect cerebral air embolisms (CAE), but a review study conducted by Elliott and Moon in 1996, concluded that clinical evaluation and CT are still preferred for the assessment of CAE.
When matched against warfarin, atrial fibrillation (AF) patients treated with apixaban (Bristol-Myers Squibb, Pfizer) had significantly lower rates of stroke and systemic embolism, major bleeding complication, and overall mortality, compared with patients randomized to warfarin during a median follow-up of 1.
A 20-YEAR-OLD Limassol student collapsed and died on Sunday after suffering a massive pulmonary embolism, doctors said yesterday.
He was diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism, a clot wedged in the lung, which doctors say could have proved fatal had it reached his brain.
The blood clots cause Deep Vein Thrombosis, and in some cases the clots travel up to the lungs, causing potentially fatal pulmonary embolism.
By obstructing the blood flow through the lungs, pulmonary embolisms cause difficulty breathing, chest pain and palpitations.
CHICAGO, May 24, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Each year in the United States, pulmonary embolisms (PE) kill more people than AIDS, breast cancer and motor vehicle crashes combined.