Dissolving Dangerous Clots
Reported April 22, 2010
ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Up to 300,000 people will die from it this year: Deep vein thrombosis — or DVT — causes blood clots in the leg that can break off and travel to the lungs or heart. A new, surgery-free treatment is fishing out the killer clots and sending patients back to normal life the next day.
They’re the light of Janice Kelly’s life. Rescue dogs Daisy and Heidi don’t leave much room for slowing down. But she had to when her leg started throbbing. She dismissed the pain as part of the healing process from a broken foot. A trip to the hospital weeks later changed everything.
“I didn’t realize the seriousness of it until they told me they were transferring me to another hospital,” Kelly told Ivanhoe.
Kelly had a blood clot that was nearly two feet long, from her knee to her hip. A piece of the clot had already traveled to her lungs. Traditional treatment for Kelly would mean months or up to a lifetime of blood thinners, leaving her at risk for another lung blockage or excessive bleeding.
Instead, doctors used a new treatment to “fish out” the clot. In a one-hour procedure, surgeons inserted a small tube behind Kelly’s knee, inflated a balloon at each end of the clot, and filled the space with medication.
“It actually isolates the area that we’re going to treat with balloons so that nothing escapes from the area you’re treating,” Mark Ranson, M.D., vascular surgeon at Florida Hospital Cardiovascular Institute in Orlando, Fla., explained. “That way, it eliminates the risk of the clot going to the lung.”
A vibrating wire helps dissolve the clot, which is then pulled back out through the same tiny space behind the knee. Kelly was up and walking the next day.
“I have basically been able to resume a normal life and not have to worry about it,” she said.
Done worrying about herself and back to focusing on her best friends.
The new clot-busting procedure is done under sedation. Most patients go home on blood thinners for a short period of time after the procedure to prevent re-clotting. Several factors leave a person at risk for DVT including old age, narrowed veins and being immobile for a long period of time, even in an airplane or car.
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Florida Hospital Media Relations