Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) kills around 100,000 Americans per year. This condition is a blood clot which occurs in veins beneath the skin. These clots are most often found in the legs or pelvis. Why is it so dangerous? DVT can potentially lead to a pulmonary embolism when blood clots break loose, travel through the bloodstream and lodge in the lungs. DVT is such a vital medical issue that the U.S. Surgeon General made it his "Call to Action," or No. 1 priority in 2008. Historically, the most important treatment for DVT has been prevention and blood thinners.
Cardiologists at Chilton Medical Center use a procedure called "pharmaco-mechanical thrombectomy" in which the blood clots are dissolved with medication and vacuumed out using a special device designed for this purpose. It's a minimally invasive procedure that saves limbs and lives. After confirming the DVT by taking x-ray pictures of the veins, a catheter is inserted to deliver clot-dissolving medications, called thrombolytics, directly at the site. Caregivers typically let the medication soak from 20 minutes up to an hour to loosen and dissolve the clot. Then we use the catheter-based device through the same small needle hole to vacuum it out. With the clot gone, the blood can flow from the legs and the swelling goes down quickly. Patients can go home soon after the procedure.
Visit the Atlantic Health System physician referral service and search for a Chilton Medical Center physician or call 1-800-247-9580.