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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 ?
The true incidence of amniotic fluid embolism is unknown.
Estimates of the incidence of amniotic fluid embolism (AFE) are in the range of 1 in 70,000-90,000 live births.
In contrast, the registry data would suggest that amniotic fluid embolism (AFE) is exceedingly rare.
Pete and Colin start their run in May and are raising money for Barnardo's and the Amniotic Fluid Embolism Foundation.
Severe respiratory distress due to the amniotic fluid embolism syndrome in a twin pregnancy.
Hartz said the women who died experienced amniotic fluid embolism, ``an underlying complication that is not predictable, not preventable, not treatable and is usually lethal.
Nittaya Hendrickson died from an amniotic fluid embolism and her baby Chester had brain damage and also died.
The researchers determined the cardiac arrest rate among women with various coexisting conditions, and found the following: hypertensive disorders of pregnancy (27%), postpartum hemorrhage (25%), antepartum hemorrhage (16%), amniotic fluid embolism (14%), cardiomyopathy (13%), anesthetic complications (9%), sepsis (8%), aspiration pneumonitis (8%), and venous thromboembolism (7%).
Last week an inquest into her death was told Julie suffered a fatal amniotic fluid embolism following an emergency Caesarean.
She had a heart attack caused by an amniotic fluid embolism.