Consent: Embolectomy

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Last updated: February 14, 2019
Revisions: 4

Last updated: February 14, 2019
Revisions: 4

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This article is for educational purposes only. It should not be used as a template for consenting patients. The person obtaining consent should have clear knowledge of the procedure and the potential risks and complications. Always refer to your local or national guidelines, and the applicable and appropriate law in your jurisdiction governing patient consent.

Overview of Procedure

An embolectomy is undertaken due to an acute arterial occlusion, causing acute limb ischaemia. This can be achieved through access in any artery, however it is most common in the brachial or femoral region.

Following arterial dissection, a balloon catheter is inserted into the artery and passed beyond the occlusion, to then be inflated and withdrawn back to pull out any embolus. This is done until no further clot is retrieved and the arteriotomy is closed.



Complication Description of Complication Potential Ways to Reduce Risk
Haemorrhage This can occur due to damage to either the artery or the femoral vein or its branches and may require blood transfusion.
Injury to surrounding structures including femoral nerve or vein The femoral artery lies between the femoral nerve and femoral vein. Either of these can be damaged during the dissection if not careful. Dissect using a standard approach with identification of the inguinal ligament primarily, then approach the artery proximally
Anaesthetic Risks Includes damage to the teeth, throat and larynx, reaction to medications, nausea and vomiting, cardiovascular and respiratory complications. Forms a part of the anaesthetist assessment before the operation


Complication Description of Complication Potential Ways to Reduce Risk
Pain The patient will most likely have an epidural to minimise this or use of local anaesthesia during the procedure.
Bleeding There is a small chance of bleeding and bruising in the groin post-surgery.
Infection Superficial wound infection is possible, and most common in the groin, however dissection infection if occurs is a major complication requiring life-long antibiotics. Peri-operative antibiotics will reduce the risk of wound infections
Scarring A longitudinal or transverse incisions will result in a scar, which may form a keloid scar, particular in high risk ethnicities.
Seroma A swelling of lymphatic fluid may occur due to disruption of the lymph nodes and channels. Careful dissection of the lymphatic nodes and channels with ligation will minimise this risk.
Blood clots DVTs and PEs are a possibility in any operation. The risk is increased in patients with a raised BMI, on the pill, recent flights, previous DVT, pregnancy, smokers, cancer and prolonged bed rest. The patient will be given anti-embolism stocking and low molecular weight heparin peri-operatively to minimise this risk as deemed appropriate.
Compartment syndrome Compartment syndrome may occur in patients with prolonged clamp times or in the acute setting. Patients with a long history of peripheral vascular disease are preconditioned for ischaemia so it is less likely. Minimise clamp times
Stroke, MI, Kkdney failure, death Although small, this is always a risk in any major surgery


Complication Description of Complication Potential Ways to Reduce Risk
Hernia Any groin incision can cause a hernia if there is damage to the inguinal ligament or extensive lifting of the ligament during the procedure.
Reintervention Any acute arterial occlusion may reoccur due to stenosis of the vessel or further emboli from the proximal source. Ensure adequate anticoagulation post-operatively