Destroying Clots in Deep Veins: Pharmacomechanical Thrombolysis

Updated on: August 18, 2014

Pharmacomechanical thrombolysis is a procedure that has helped individuals in Rockville, Maryland and other parts of the country destroy and remove clots that are located in deep veins. It contains clot-dissolving agents as well as mechanical devices. These soften, break up and remove clot debris by using suction. Individuals who are suffering from deep vein thrombosis may find this treatment helpful, although patients are encouraged to consult a vein specialist in the Rockville area to determine if this treatment is right for them.

Blood thinners may be used to prevent new clots from forming, but pharmacomechanical thrombolysis actually removes existing clots. This helps to prevent vascular damage and may reduce the risks that may occur when deep vein thrombosis clots break away from the vein. This treatment differs from traditional methods of thrombolysis in that a mechanical component to break apart clots is used, whereas in the traditional method, the clot-dissolving drugs are used but not the mechanical components. Catheter-directed thrombolysis may require ICU follow up care or may even require critical care monitoring after the procedure, but these are not necessary with pharmacomechanical thrombolysis. The latter even requires a smaller dose of the clot-dissolving drugs.

In many cases, this procedure is performed under sedation. The physician inserts a catheter into the vein with the clot. This catheter contains both the mechanical device used to break apart the clot and is used to deliver clot-dissolving drugs. The catheter is passed through the vein until the clot is reached. It is then advanced through the clot until the catheter emerges from the other side of the clot. A tiny balloon is then inflated at the catheter's end and another balloon is inflated at the near end of the clot to prevent the clot from breaking free during the process.

With the tiny balloons in place, the clot dissolving agent is administered to the clot and the mechanical device is activated to break apart the clot. With the clot completely broken apart, a tiny suction tip is used to remove the debris from the clot. The balloons are then deflated and the catheter removed. Each procedure takes about 20 to 30 minutes to perform.

Like other procedures, there is a small risk of infection following pharmacomechanical thrombolysis. There may also be a risk of bleeding complications and vascular injury associated with this treatment. Patients are encouraged to discuss these risks with a vein specialist in the Rockville area for further information and to help determine if they are a candidate for this procedure. Most individuals who are considered a candidate for this procedure have deep vein thrombosis, which is a condition associated with clots forming deep within the body and mostly in the legs although they may occur elsewhere as well.

Learn more about pharmacomechanical thrombolysis in Rockville, Maryland.

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