Medical Definition of Emboli

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Reviewed on 12/11/2018

Emboli: Something that travels through the bloodstream, lodges in a blood vessel and blocks it. Examples of emboli are a detached blood clot, a clump of bacteria, and foreign material such as air.

Pulmonary emboli are blood clots that have been carried through the blood into the pulmonary artery (the main blood vessel from the heart to the lung) or one of its branches, plugging that vessel.

Emboli is the plural of embolus, a word that comes from the Greek "embolos" meaning a wedge or plug. "Embolos" was derived from "en" (in) + "ballein" (to throw) so emboli are something thrown in.

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Reviewed on 12/11/2018