What is Deep Vein Thrombosis?
Deep vein thrombosis occurs when a large blood clot forms in one of the deep veins of the body. These clots most commonly form in the legs, causing leg pain and swelling. If left untreated, the blood clot could break loose and block blood flow to the lungs, leading to a pulmonary embolism. This is life-threatening and requires emergency care.
Symptoms of Deep Vein Thrombosis
Some people have no noticeable symptoms of deep vein thrombosis. Those who do have symptoms often experience:
- Swelling in the affected leg and foot
- Skin discoloration
- A feeling of warmth in the affected leg
- Cramping pain
If the clot is in the upper body, symptoms include:
- Neck and shoulder pain
- Skin discoloration
- Swelling in the affected arm and hand
- Pain in the affected arm
- Weakness in the hand
Risk Factors for Deep Vein Thrombosis
Adults over 60 are more likely to develop deep vein thrombosis, as are those who are pregnant, overweight, or who smoke. Driving, flying, or otherwise sitting for extended periods of time can cause clots to form, as moving your legs typically helps with blood circulation. A family history of blood clots and inherited genetic disorders can also make you more likely to develop deep vein thrombosis.
However, some cases of deep vein thrombosis have no apparent risk factors associated with them.
How Does Catheter-Directed Thrombolysis Work?
Using imaging guidance, an Interventional Radiologist will insert a catheter into a vein in the leg and threads the catheter through the vein to the location of the clot. The tip of the catheter is placed into the clot and a “clot busting” medication is injected directly into the clot. Typically within 24 – 48 hours, the clot will dissolve, though it may take up to a few days. If there is any damage to the artery or vein as a result of the clot or narrowing due to atherosclerosis, can be treated during the procedure with balloon angioplasty or with a stent.
Because catheter-directed thrombolysis uses only one small incision to insert the catheter and deliver treatment, recovery is faster than open surgery. That means patients spend less time in pain and more time enjoying the quality of life they deserve.
After the Procedure
One of our Interventional Radiologists will interpret your results and advise you whether the procedure was a success. During a follow-up visit, your physician may discuss any additional treatment you may need or if you experience any side effects of the procedure.
Am I a Candidate for DVT Treatment?
If you have blood clots causing pain and swelling or a history of clots, are at risk for pulmonary embolism, or have a blood clot in your arm rather than your leg, your doctor may recommend this procedure.
If you’d like to see if catheter-directed thrombolysis is the right choice for you, reach out to schedule an appointment with one of our doctors. Our expert interventional radiologists are here to help you feel better without the trouble of major surgery.