An embolism is the lodging of an embolus, a blockage-causing piece of material, inside a blood vessel. The embolus may be a blood clot (thrombus), a fat globule (fat embolism), a bubble of air or other gas (gas embolism), or foreign material. An embolism can cause partial or total blockage of blood flow in the affected vessel. Such a blockage (a vascular occlusion) may affect a part of the body distant from the origin of the embolus. An embolism in which the embolus is a piece of thrombus is called a thromboembolism.
An embolism is usually a pathological event, i.e., accompanying illness or injury. Sometimes it is created intentionally for a therapeutic reason, such as to stop bleeding or to kill a cancerous tumor by stopping its blood supply. Such therapy is called embolization.