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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 ?
However, even as long ago as 2000 it was realised that if small quantities of amniotic fluid escaped the filter they would probably do no damage, because amniotic fluid embolism is no longer regarded as an embolic disease, but as a type of anaphylactic reaction (Clarke et al 1995, Fineschi et al 1998, Farrar & Gherman 2001).
Severe respiratory distress due to the amniotic fluid embolism syndrome in a twin pregnancy.
Amniotic fluid embolism (AFE) occurs in about 1 in 20,000 to 1 in 40,000 deliveries.
However, the three complications discussed here - amniotic fluid embolism, ruptured uterus, and peripartum cardiomyopathy - are conditions that can happen to otherwise young, healthy women.
Last week an inquest into her death was told Julie suffered a fatal amniotic fluid embolism following an emergency Caesarean.
The Searle letter said misoprostol use in pregnancy is linked to possible adverse outcomes: maternal or fetal death, uterine hyperstimulation, uterine rupture or peforation, hysterectomy, salpingo-oophorectomy, amniotic fluid embolism, severe vaginal bleeding, retained placenta, shock, fetal bradycardia, and pelvic pain.
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%).
NO In this population-based cohort study and nested case-control analysis, Knight and coworkers used data from the UK Obstetric Surveillance System to estimate the incidence of amniotic fluid embolism (AFE), finding 2 cases for every 100,000 deliveries (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.
health care workers shortly before mifepristone was approved, reminding them that misoprostol is contraindicated in pregnancy Off-label use of misoprostol in pregnancy has been linked to maternal or fetal death and other adverse events, including fetal bradycardia, amniotic fluid embolism, severe vaginal bleeding, and retained placenta, according to the letter.
She had a heart attack caused by an amniotic fluid embolism.