Deep Vein Thrombosis – DVT

Definition of Deep Vein Thrombosis:

When blood does not flow smoothly through a vessel, it can begin to coagulate, turning from a free-flowing liquid to a semi-solid gel, or blood clots.

Effects of DVT:

A blood clot, or thrombus, that forms within a blood vessel may continue to grow, blocking off the blood supply to certain parts of the body and causing damage to tissues and organs. In some patients, blood clots come from one site, dislodge, travel downstream, and lodge in relatively small vessels causing a blockage, or embolization. Untreated, a vascular blockage due to thrombosis or embolization, can result in the loss of an organ or extremity, with potentially life-threatening consequences.

Deep Vein Thrombosis Treatment & Procedure:

In a catheter-directed thrombolysis procedure, x-ray imaging is used to help guide a special medication or medical device to the site of blood clots to dissolve the blockage. A catheter used for thrombolysis is a long, thin, hollow plastic tube.

Guided by x-rays, the physician will insert a catheter through the skin into a blood vessel and advance it to the area of poor circulation. A contrast material is then injected through the catheter and a series of x-rays is taken to pinpoint the location of the clot. Your radiologist will review the images and determine whether the clot will be best treated by a clot-dissolving medication, by breaking it up with a mechanical device, or both.

To treat the clot with medication, the catheter is left in place and connected to a special machine that delivers the medication at a precise rate. Clot-dissolving medications are delivered through the catheter over several hours to a few days. It may take up to 72 hours for the clot to dissolve (although most clots dissolve within 24 hours), during which time you will be monitored closely by the medical staff.

Removal of the clot from the vessel by a mechanical device is a relatively quick procedure (usually completed in less than one hour) and generally does not require a lengthy hospital stay.

At the end of the procedure, the catheter is removed and pressure is applied to stop any bleeding. The opening in the skin is then covered with a dressing. No sutures are needed.

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