For patients who have deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or pulmonary embolism (PE), an endovascular thrombectomy may be performed. This procedure is designed to rapidly break up the clot, restore blood flow within the vein, and potentially preserve valve function to minimize the risk of post-thrombotic syndrome.
Using image guidance, a vascular surgeon inserts a catheter into the popliteal (located behind the knee) or other leg vein and threads it into the vein containing the clot. The catheter tip is placed into the clot and a "clot busting" drug is infused directly to the thrombus (clot). The fresher the clot, the faster it dissolves, usually in one to two days.
Any narrowing in the vein that might lead to future clot formation can be identified by venography, an imaging study of the veins, and treated by the physician with a balloon angioplasty or stent placement.
For patients who are not good candidates for a thrombectomy and for whom blood thinners are not medically appropriate, the physician can insert a vena cava filter, a small device that functions like a catcher's mitt to capture blood clots but allow normal liquid blood to pass.
For the treatment of DVT and to prevent a blood clot from traveling to the lungs, vascular surgeons like Dr. Julien can perform a minimally invasive procedure to break up the clot. This is one of many procedures performed conveniently in our office.
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